I am so excited to be sharing ideas about integrity with you this month. It’s one of my most important values and also one of the Signature Strengths that each of us possess to some extent. Over the past few months, Life Adventure Notes has been exploring some of those 24 positive aspects of character that psychologists have outlined for us – today, we discuss what it means to be in integrity.
In my mind, one of the most important points about integrity is that it’s a path to self confidence and self esteem. It is one of the tools I used to transform myself from the shy little girl that I once was. Here’s how that works… integrity requires me to do the right thing rather than the easy thing. It brings the element of challenge to my life and any challenge overcome can lead to an opportunity to feel good about what I have accomplished. Instant self confidence booster!
In day to day life, I practice integrity by being “impeccable with my word”. Simply put, I do what I say I am going to do. There are two parts to that: first, I am cautious about what I agree to so that when I say I will do something, it’s a commitment that I am capable of and want to fulfill. Second, comes the sometimes difficult job of following up to make the action happen. It takes real attention to act even when it would be easier not to and I think no one would notice. In the end, I try to do what I have said because the end result is the powerful feeling inside of being authentic and aligned. This feeling alone is enough to make the occasional challenge of integrity so very worthwhile for me.
Here’s your challenge for the month: speak your integrity. Stand up and have those difficult conversations that need to happen. Make only commitments that you can keep. Then at the end of the month, review how you feel. My guess is that you will feel proud and accomplished.
“Walk the talk.”
“Put your money where your mouth is.”
“To thine own self be true and… thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Our culture has a lot of common sayings about integrity. Some of our most revered national heroes include Abe Lincoln, George Washington, and Eleanor Roosevelt. Each of these leaders were known for their integrity; their honesty and sincerity is legend. But integrity goes beyond honesty: it is a form of courage, a willingness to do the right thing even though it isn’t the easiest or most popular thing to do.
Nowadays, however, the absence of integrity is most frequently discussed. And it’s often noted when referring to elected officials: “That politician has no integrity” or “He is talking out of both sides of his mouth” are commonly heard complaints. As the Yiddish proverb goes, “A half-truth is a whole lie,” and it seems that most of what you hear in the media is half-truths – you’re just not sure which half it is.
But integrity is something you can experience and observe every day, from the playground to the boardroom. The child who stands up to the bully for herself or her friend; the junior bookkeeper who blows the whistle on the fraudulent CFO; even the person who has committed wrong – and admits it, accepting the responsibility: all these are examples of people with integrity, who are telling the truth and are willing to take responsibility for their actions and the consequences of their behaviors. They each are showing courage in the face of resistance.
It may be that you see a lack of integrity in the world because our culture has come to value other measures of “success” more highly. We increasingly value financial rewards, competition, and acclaim rather than character and integrity. Hence, you see steroids used by athletes, journalists falsifying stories, and profits valued over people. What is right is often forgotten or ignored for what is convenient or profitable.
How do you live with integrity? Integrity can be found in private behaviors – stopping for a yellow light when you could have run it, for example. You can also find integrity in behaviors that can affect any number of people: not laughing at a joke that promotes bigotry; not participating in harmful gossip; standing up for a family member or friend; or speaking your truth in the face of opposition. Integrity can be thought of as doing the right thing, even when it is difficult and even when no one is looking.
Yet there is usually someone who is looking: a child, a student, a colleague, even yourself. One important thing about showing integrity is that you never regret it. Practicing integrity makes you feel good about yourself, and it also makes others feel good knowing about your behavior. Your integrity can give others the courage to be honest, to be authentic, to be responsible for their words and actions.
Integrity is inspiring. Integrity stands tall, walks confidently, looks honestly, and speaks from inner guidance. Integrity doesn’t have to look over its shoulder, to speak in whispers, or to remember what it said to whom. As J.C. Watts said, “There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.”
I like to think of integrity as contagious. Who inspires you with their integrity? Consider practicing integrity yourself as an excellent way of honoring that other person. You never know who you will inspire in return!
Who are your role models of integrity?
When have you given in to a behavior that you knew was not aligned with your own values?
What were the forces that pushed you out of your own integrity?
How can you overcome similar forces in the future?
I Say Yes When I Mean No
~From The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
There have been many times when I said yes when I meant no, afraid of displeasing others, and even more afraid of being viewed as selfish. I think the first time I decided to get married, I said yes when I meant no. Young and inexperienced in being myself, I agreed to be a fish out of water for as long as I could, so as not to hurt or disappoint or displease. Not surprisingly, it all ended badly.
And how many times, once trained in self-sacrifice, do we have the opposite conversation with ourselves; our passion for life saying yes, yes, yes and our practical guardedness saying, don’t be foolish, be realistic, don’t leave yourself unprotected. But long enough on the journey, and we come to realize an even deeper aspect of all this: that those who truly love us will never knowingly ask us to be other than we are.
The unwavering truth is that when we agree to any demand, request, or condition that is contrary to our soul’s nature, the cost is that precious like force is drained off our core. Despite the seeming rewards of compliance, our souls grow weary by engaging in activities that are inherently against their nature. When we leave the crowded streets and watch any piece of nature doing what it does – tree, moose, snake or lightning- it becomes clear that the very energy of life is the spirit released by things being what they are. And those of us committed to love must accept that care is the inner river flooding its banks. Yet if the soul’s river can’t be fed by its source, there will be no care.
INDIVIDUAL COACHING BY PHONE
Want to stop that feeling that life is passing you by?
Would you like to able to experience your life as an exciting series of adventures?
Would you like to feel more joy and achieve more success?
That is what I help my clients develop in their own lives. Working with a coach helps you overcome the challenges that can keep you from a successful life. Coaching gives you a companion on the journey; someone with whom to discuss events as they unfold and to help you move toward joy in the adventure. Developing clear goals, focusing intently and staying committed become possible.
If you aren’t sure and would like to explore whether coaching is right for you, please send an email to Janet@lifeadventurecoaching.com or call me at 828-691-4655 for a complimentary consultation.