Integrity

It is time, long overdue in fact, for this blog to become active.  I can think of no more fitting subject to begin posting with than integrity. What does integrity mean to you?  How do you hold it?  Does it stand for obligation?  A promise?  Maybe a way of judging other people when they don't conduct themselves with integrity.  Perhaps it has more negative connotations: disappointment or distrust.  Maybe your relationship to integrity is entirely ambivalent - you've never even considered what it means to you.

As a coach, I hold integrity as a crucial part of being fulfilled in our lives.  Here is the definition that I use with my clients:

Integrity means being aligned in thoughts, words, and actions.

When we are out of integrity, we have a power leak.  We lose our ability to move forward with ease, power and purpose.  When we say one thing, but act another way, it prevents us from fully being ourselves, and creates a mental loop that holds us in check and requires constant maintenance.  Put simply, being out of integrity creates work, and that work distracts from our focus.

As an example, imagine Jim, who is claiming to his employers that he is fully committed to a career with the company, while pursuing new jobs or an entrepreneurial venture on his own time.  Every time Jim is at an event, a party, or bumps into someone in the street who asks "Hey Jim, what are you up to these days?", he must conduct some housekeeping.  Who might overhear his answer to this question?  How might his answer get back to his employers?  Is the person he is talking to possibly related to someone he works for?  And so on.

Jim is out of integrity, as his words are out of alignment with his thoughts and actions.  Rather than simply being able to be himself, he is caught in the position of having to manage what he puts out into the world.  He is having to hold his being in check, and instead focused on what he is doing (more on these two foundational concepts next week).

Furthermore, Jim misses out on opportunities such as the possibility of his employers wanting to support him in what he sets out to do, or putting him in contact with other people that may be able to help him.

For leaders, integrity is of the utmost importance.  A leader out of integrity is compromised whenever they make a request of someone in that area.  True leadership means a commitment to acting from being.  The power leaks created from being out of integrity reduces your ability to do so.  Consider the leader that asks his employees to keep a clean shop, but throws his own garbage on the floor.  His staff will not respect his requests, as they will not be coming from a place of authenticity.  Without integrity at the foundation, the pillar of leadership quickly falls apart.

The same holds true for bureaucracies, and it is often a lack of integrity that leads to the discontent common amongst younger generations of employees.  It is all well and good to make statements about workplace flexibility and engagement, but if the thoughts, and actions of that bureaucracy are not in alignment with the statement, it will have no power, and the employees no faith.

Look for places in your life where you are out of integrity, and ask yourself how that is serving you.  Does it help you keep up a specific appearance?  Perhaps it saves you from feeling embarrassed about what you're pursuing.  Maybe you're worried that you'll fail, and so by not sharing, you don't have to face the risk of your failure being made public.  (Hint: failure is perhaps the single most important factor in succeeding).

No matter how big or small, take note of the places where you are out of integrity and identify how that serves you in the short-term.  These are the places where small changes will reap big rewards.  Take on the practice of bringing yourself into integrity, and notice the difference in your life that it makes.

On the topic of Evergrowth's own integrity, I am making a declaration here and now that this blog will be active on a weekly basis, with posts published at the end of each weekend.  Stay tuned - we are committed to providing value in all of our actions.