Integrity. Choose it and ditch the drama.
It’s a loaded word.
Loaded in the sense that it elicits a sense of pride, ownership and digging deep for the best part of yourself.
Integrity is one of the most common core values identified by my individual and organizational clients, and I’ll bet it’s a common descriptor you use yourself. We are quick to believe that of course, we live in integrity! Yet, what does it really mean to be “in integrity?”
Integrity is the state of being whole and complete. It’s honoring your word as yourself.
And as I learned in a recent transformational seminar, as humans, we tend to collapse integrity with morality. Integrity IS NOT about being right or wrong. It IS NOT about being good or bad. It’s simply about living in a way where life is working, or is not working. Acknowledge where it’s not working, clean up what needs to be cleaned up and be complete with yourself and with others. Integrity is an ongoing process. You can keep re-establishing integrity as often as it takes to be whole, to be working and to be complete.
I recently experienced two uncomfortable situations that got to the heart of integrity.
The first situation, a friend backed out on a commitment we made. Her communication to me was loaded with excuses, justifications and quite simply, things I didn’t need to know or want to hear. I was angry and disappointed. But I caught myself and stopped my own dramatic spinning, and decided to look through the lens of integrity. I responded to her with a simple truth about the situation: we made a commitment and she was breaking it. I thought to myself, “she’s not a bad person; I don’t need to be right; people break agreements all the time. Acknowledge it, complete the story and we both can move on.” However, we didn’t complete it so cleanly. The situation lingered on for more than a week with a lack of acknowledgement, more talk, more time stewing and more energy wasted. It didn’t feel good then and still doesn’t. And our relationship suffered.
Compare that to situation #2.
This time, I was the recipient of a client’s call to integrity. My client left me a straight-forward phone message: she wasn’t happy with something I delivered and was communicating her disappointment. When I heard the message, I immediately had that gnawing pit in my stomach, like a child being scolded and my head started to spin lining up all of my justifications. Then I stopped…and smiled! Flash back to my experience with the first situation. This time, I wanted a different response in order to create a better outcome. Deal with it straight, clean it up and complete the situation.
And I did. I called my client the next morning — and in 45 seconds — I kid you not, in less than a minute, we cleaned up the situation. No drama, no excuses, no justifications, no wasted time. I apologized, acknowledged my appreciation for her candor and honesty and told her how much I appreciate the way we communicate as client/consultant and as friends. She acknowledged that she got me and we wished each other a good weekend. Not even a blip on the screen of our relationship – and we haven’t missed a beat since.
Look at your own life. How does integrity show up? Are you too quick to assume you are already in integrity? Where might you be generating drama or allowing drama to spin around you? What is the impact to your relationship with yourself and with others, your time, your energy…and your sanity? It’s time to get clear on what’s working and what is not working, establish integrity and get complete.
Here are a few cues to help think through your relationship to integrity.
1. Are there any areas of your life where you are currently out of integrity? Look at how you respond to being late, missing appointments, breaking agreements and promises, and leaving conversations incomplete. Do you run and hide and avoid them? Do you wait for the other party to approach you? Do you dwell in the justifications, excuses and drama? Do you beat yourself up? Decide what is working and what is not working and that you are going to clean up and complete the situation immediately.
2. Remove morality from the equation. Look to see if you are holding on to the need to be right, the need to look good or the need to avoid looking bad at the expense of dealing directly with what is not working. What is the real impact? You may be missing out on the exact experience you want (connection, joy, love, etc.) because you’re holding on to the need to be right or the need to look good. Release your grasp, now.
3. Remember, you can re-establish integrity at any time. For example, if you “cheated” on your healthy eating plan today, re-establish the agreement with yourself again for tomorrow. It’s a new day and new commitment and the fact that you indulged in a piece of cake has nothing to do with the new agreement. Give yourself permission to start over now.
4. Keep your conversations (with others and the conversations in your head) short and concise, focused on the FACTS. Tackle it head on. You don’t need to say much. When it comes to getting back into integrity, the less you say, the better. Respond in a way that honors yourself and your truth.
Living in integrity is clean and simple.
When you are in integrity, life just works.
Choose integrity and ditch the energy drains in your life!