The frustration of Step Sponsoring

I conduct step workshops, step application workshops, promises workshops and even Train the Trainer workshops - and have been doing so for quite a while now.

Since I (or WSLB) do not "organise" any of these workshops myself, it is left to individuals wanting the workshop to get together and form an Organising Group to share the tasks and create a workshop.

Of late, due to domestic medical conditions, I have been unable to travel outstation as I used to do till mid-2017.

These workshops are, essentially, step sponsoring at a group level as different from one-on-one step sponsoring. I used to do that (on an individual level) for most of my first two decades in the AA Fellowship. The effort and time demands became unworkable and with lots of caution, I started with a small group of 8 in 2008,growing to 150+ in the years that followed.

Obviously, the "intensity" of the work at the individual level cannot be compared to that at a group level. So I set out the pathway for participants to follow up with participants to do the steps with their sponsors individually - as also encourage those who've done it often enough to teach others in their groups, so a wider audience benefits.

But one of the things I still do is to engage with the Organising Group (usually 4-5 people) at a much more intensive level in the run up to the workshop. They're putting in lots of effort to organise the workshop, so I thought I'll do my bit by engaging with them and using the very challenges they face to do more intensive work.

To my utter disappointment, these Organisers usually think of themselves:

  • Masters who are doing others (or even me!) a favour by creating an SWS
  • Masters who need no coaching
  • Debtors who cant be questioned
  • Equals who have nothing more to learn 'outside' of the workshop and its curriculum
  • As trainees to be able to copy and deliver a workshop themselves
  • No need to be shown any mirror let alone a speaking mirror

Time after time, I've realised the futility in the old adage: You can take a horse (ass!) to the water but you can't make it drink.

A long time ago, I decided I will not be available for individual sponsoring, step 5 or 8-9 advise. I think it's time I desisted from 'engaging' with Organisers too. It's simply not worth my effort or time.

I'm on twitter : @jsvasan


Felt disappointed after reading this. 

“Coaching without resentment” - difficult task but worth it to bring transformation. 

When I get difficult people in life, sometimes I wonder, why am I getting these people; what is the lesson I need to learn; are they difficult people or am I being difficult.

The 12 Step Workshop

The 12-Step Workshop - or SWS for short is the entry-level programme for people to work the 12-steps of AA. Coached by AAs, for AAs and of AAs, the SWS is a 3-day programme.


The Promises Workshop, or PWS for short, is for people who've maintained long-term sobriety and have completed doing at least two SWSs. They need to have also actually worked all the 12 Steps in their entirety.

Train the Trainer

WSLB believes in the AA tradition of "give it away to keep it". Hence a Train the Trainer (T3WS) Course.