What is Integrity? The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. Integrity is the state of being whole and complete, to be in perfect condition. It is an inner experience of being whole, complete and perfect; with nowhere to go and nothing to prove; with nothing to change or fix to experience wholeness, completeness and perfection in who you are. Only from this state of Being, can creativity, innovation, performance, productivity and effectiveness arise. How can a business survive without all of these?
The access to an experience of being whole and complete is to value and honour oneself. Valuing and honouring myself means to value and honour what I say to myself and to others. Integrity, therefore, is honouring myself by honouring my word to myself and to others.
What is my word? There are 5 words that define me:
1. When I say, I promise X: This is my word at the bottom of the ‘promise’ / ‘word’ hierarchy.
2. What I say: I say, I will come. I didn’t say, I promise I’ll come. Even then, it is my word, my promise to go wherever I said I will go.
3. My intentions and dreams: Our intentions and dreams are our promises to ourselves to transform our wants and burning desires into reality.
4. My commitments: Our commitments are our promises too. The values that we are committed to, the relationships that we are committed to, personal growth that we are committed to, whatever it is we are committed to is then also our promise, our word to ourself and to others.
5. Expectations that people have of me: People in our life have expectations of us. Those become our promises too unless we have a straight conversation with others and let them know that you are aware of the expectation but are choosing to release yourself from it. Unless a conversation like this has happened, we are bound by others’ expectations of us. They expect from us, they hold that as our word to them. The truth is we are aware of the expectations but may not have the courage to have an obviously difficult conversation and choose to push this under the carpet instead of rock the boat. The impact of pushing under the carpet is that we anyway won’t do what is expected of us because we don’t want to and yet the other continues to expect of us feeling hurt at our not honouring the expectation. This throws the relationship in negative spiral to a certain death of the relationship in the near future. You may still be staying together, and yet the relationship is dead emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
How can we honour our word to ourself and others?
Honouring my word is to keep my word; doing what I said I will do, at the time I said I will do, the way I said I will do. If I missed to keep my word, then Integrity would be to restore my word to regain my experience of being whole, complete and perfect.
Restoring your word means to acknowledge your broken word and the impact of breaking your word to whoever the promise was made (either to self or to another), take responsibility of the impact and make a new promise.
Though, why really bother? I came 2 minutes late to a meeting; or made a customer delivery 5 minutes late; or I said to a colleague “I will be with you in 5 minutes” and didn’t even see my watch to know when the 5 minutes started; or I plan to wake up at 7:00 am daily and hit the snooze button every time to snuggle in for another 2 minutes. Surely all these things are insignificant.
Unfortunately, not. Why are such seemingly insignificant things so important? It is because our dreams and our intentions are our promises to ourselves, our word to ourselves. If we don’t value 100% of our own word moment by moment, the four bodies of our Being (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) assume that our word is of no value to us, we are not really committed to creating what we say and will not throw their full weight behind our dreams and intentions.
With no inner power (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual support from our own self) to fulfil on our intentions and dreams, we struggle through life wanting so much but not experiencing fulfilment at being able to create all that we want to. Unfulfilled dreams and intentions rot us from inside, killing us softly with their unsung song.
If you want inner personal power to create a magnificent Life, if you want to fulfil all your intentions and realize all your impossible unimaginable dreams that scare you because they seem so big, then value and honour every Word that you are at the source of.
Keeping your word means doing what you said, doing it the way you meant it, at the time you said it. Lot of factors play to not make this possible always. Instead of just brushing something you missed under the carpet, Integrity would be to honour your word by restoring your broken word to restore your power to create.
Restoring one’s word is a 5-step process:
1. Acknowledge your broken word. A word is broken when either you didn’t do , or didn’t do it the way you meant to do it, or didn’t do it by the time you said you would.
You acknowledge your broken word to yourself if you had made a promise to yourself or you acknowledge your broken word to whoever you had made an explicit or an implicit promise to. For example - I had promised to finish this report by 5-Feb and I missed to submit it. I acknowledge my broken word.
2. The 2nd step is to share the impact of the broken word on yourself and on others. To continue with the same example - I had promised to finish this report by 5-Feb and I missed to submit it. I acknowledge my broken word.The impact on me is that I am feeling guilty and have been avoiding you. The impact on you is that you felt let down and got delayed in honouring your commitments. The impact is also that you lost trust on me.
3. The 3rd step is to take responsibility for the impact: Here’s how you do it - I had promised to finish this report by 5-Feb and I missed to submit it. I acknowledge my broken word.The impact on me is that I am feeling guilty and have been avoiding you. The impact on you is that you felt let down and got delayed in honouring your commitments. The impact is also that you lost trust on me. I take responsibility of this impact.
4. The 4th step is to make a new promise: Continuing with the same example - My new promise is to finish the report by today end of day.
5. The 5th step is to share your structure of success that will support you to fulfil on your new promise: In the above example - My structure of success would be to re-prioritize and re-schedule everything else on my calendar today so that I can fully focus on the report.
To re-cap, Integrity is honouring and valuing yourself. Valuing and honouring yourself requires you to honour your word because you are the words you say to yourself and the words you say to others. Therefore, Integrity is honouring your word which is to keep your word - doing what you said you will do, at the time you said you will do it, the way you said you will do it. If you missed to keep your word, then Integrity requires you to restore your word to be in honour of your word.
Integrity can either be 0% or 100%. Let me prove it mathematically. We are born with 100% integrity, with an experience of being whole, complete and perfect. Then something happens and we break our word and push it under the carpet. Our Integrity falls below 100%. Our integrity now, for example, is at 90%. Something happens and we are faced with the choice to honour our word or not. Our probability of honouring our word is only 90% of 90% which is 81%. Next time we are faced with a choice to honour our word or not to honour our word, our probability of making the choice to honour is now only 81% of 81% which is 66%. The next time, our integrity will reduce to 61% of 61% which is 37%, next time it will be 14%, then it will be 2%, finally it will fall to 0%.
Therefore, keep track of promises you make, carefully observe what you say, take committed actions to fulfil your intentions and realise your dreams, honour your commitments and review the expectations people in your life have from you to ensure Integrity. Build the courage to have the difficult conversations to free yourself from the promise implicit in others’ expectations from you or have the strength to become bigger than who you are in this moment and honour others’ expectations from you.
Remember Integrity is a Gear 4 value. Without the workouts on the other Gears to cycle up from Gear 0 to Gear 1 to Gear 2 to Gear 3, you will not have enough strength to be Integrity. Refer to the below 2 articles to understand this journey to come home to yourself.
1. How to use Gratitude as a Leadership Tool for Business Growth?
2. How Reverence for all of Life Supports you to Lead your Business from Good to Great?
May you have the wisdom to be self-aware, courage to face your blind-spots and commitment to go beyond to connect with your Highest Self. In your personal journey from good to great, you will find the wisdom, the courage and the commitment to lead your business from good to great.
Inspiration: The Curriculum of Living from Landmark Worldwide
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