“Integrity is never painless. It requires that we let matters rub up against each other, that we fully experience the tension of conflicting needs, demands, and interests, that we even be emotionally torn apart by them … It does not seek to avoid conflict, but to reconcile it.”–M. Scott Peck: The Different Drum
During a presentation I gave last weekend to a group of entrepreneurs, I asked the participants what integrity meant to them. After listing several qualities they felt embodied integrity (e.g. ethical behavior, moral standards, doing the right thing even when no one is watching), I asked them to share any individual, company, or public figure they felt was currently operating out of a paradigm of integrity; the silence in the room was deafening.
WHAT is causing this massive perceived lack of integrity?
Our global society is more connected than ever before, but we talk to one another less and less. We’re shifting into a high-tech, low-touch relationship-based model. Why? I suspect FEAR is the bottom line here; fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of being alone, fear of abandonment, fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of hurting another–a tremendous amount of fear. What do you value in a relationship/community and who or what is your ideal? Once you know who you are, what you value, and what you truly want, then refuse to compromise until you find them. Pain avoidance is very common, but think about this: By avoiding pain, you are still in pain. It’s just a matter of which pain you’re actually avoiding; the short-term pain avoidance by being dishonest with yourself and the conflict you have? Or the long-term pain of conquering your fear and moving on to 1) empowered independence and 2) fulfilling interdependence with your ideal community who has the values/attitudes/behaviors you truly admire?
Whether in the economic, political, religious, or relational arenas, WHAT do we so desire from one another? AUTHENTICITY. So W.H.A.T. is integrity and authenticity?
WORDS: Powerful. Meaningful. If your words are not authentic, then eventually your credibility will be injured and your relationships damaged. Whether an individual, business, or corporate brand, you will build trust and influence to the degree of authenticity and integrity you choose to communicate with your words, spoken or written.
HEART: Passion. Values. Vision. If an individual, business or brand’s pounding beat is focused on anything other than authenticity and integrity, then they’ve allowed themselves to lose their way and become distracted from their shared vision and the ability to Live True to self and others. I believe The People desire to create a society based on shared passions, values, and vision while celebrating their differences.
ACTIONS: The greatest actions lacking today are Choice, Sacrifice, and Love. Integrity means you wisely choose to confront (I call it “care-front”) your conflicts based on your values and principles, not avoid them and the pain they cause. “Integrity is never painless. It requires that we let matters rub up against each other, that we fully experience the tension of conflicting needs, demands, and interests, that we even be emotionally torn apart by them … It does not seek to avoid conflict, but to reconcile it.”–M. Scott Peck: The Different Drum. Also, “Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually.”–Stephen Covey And, “Love is the ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves without any insistence that they satisfy you.”–Wayne Dyer. Those seeking integrity, happiness, and satisfaction must act from a place of choice, sacrifice, and love.
THOUGHTS: Your self beliefs are the “engine” that influence your choices on your journey through your own “mind map.” Our Hearts, our Actions, our Words are all “driven” by our Thoughts. Perhaps the core issue for lack of integrity here is negative self-perception. Perhaps you “believe” other people are “better” than you or “possess” traits you don’t. I would venture that it is what you believe about yourself that’s hindering yourself; this goes back to fear and lack of self-confidence.
For me, self-esteem is applied internally–how I feel about my own character traits; self-confidence is applied externally–how I feel about how my character traits will be perceived or operate in real-life situations. Since self-confidence is externally applied, there is a fear factor; you may have high self-esteem but are afraid that your “self” may be rejected by others or that your “self” skills are not competent for the tasks at hand, and so your confidence takes a hit. Admitting the problem (lack of self-confidence) and seeking out solutions to boost it are proactive–sometimes short-term psychoanalysis is valuable; an objective opinion is sometimes needed to change our “mental map” of ourselves, especially those wrongly formed in childhood.
We all constantly stand at the fork in the road like Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken”: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim Because it was grassy and wanted wear, Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I marked the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Which road will you choose? Integrity and Authenticity or Fear and Falsehood?
Living True North principles, aligning self with those principles most valued, and being able to let go of the ego and not have expectations of what others will think creates self-confidence and the ability to “march to the beat of a different drum”…on the journey along that road less traveled.
I’m traveling towards a new destination on that journey, a place to create True Community. Perhaps I’ll name that new place “The City of Authenti.” You’ll recognize it if you search for it, but the path to get there may be difficult for you to see. If you use the compass of Integrity, you’ll find it. I hope to meet you along that road less traveled by; we can TALK along the way.