Integrity - The Mountain That Has No Top
When many people hear the word integrity, they instantly think that the person is referring to someone’s morals and ethics. Although that may be the case, today I am using the latin meaning of integrity.
What I Mean By “Integrity”…
The word Integrity comes from 16th century Latin and Integ is: Sense of “wholeness, entire, perfect and intact. I first came across this interpretation of being integrous when I was introduced to Werner Erhard who established Est back in 1984. It was eventually replaced by the Forum in 1985. Having exposed to these teachings of the Forum, I thought I would share with you what I have learned over the years.
Let’s begin by thinking of the structural integrity of a building, it’s ability to hold together under a heavy load, including its own weight, resisting breakage or bending. Without a solid foundation, the building would sink or crumble. When the structural integrity is impinged the workability of the building will be diminished over time.
Lets look at the structural integrity of an aircraft. It is there to ensure that it is sound, robust, solid and durable so that it is safe to fly and does not endanger lives. Thank goodness for that.
Humans are like that too! When we don’t have solid foundations – when our integrity is not whole and complete, the ground can easily be pulled from underneath us, causing unworkability in areas of our lives.
Being Your Word
We all have integrity and we use it daily. We communicate our integrity by our words, then our actions and that is how we get results. As such you will see people in life where certain areas, if not all, seem to work very well. For example, someone who is fit and healthy. If you were to question them, we will see that they are integrous with their word and that they ensure they go to the gym when they say they are going to the gym and they eat healthy meals the majority of the time because they have a commitment with themselves to honour their word.
Whereas when someone has a low level of relationship to their word, we may see that they are unfit and unhealthy, their home maybe a complete shambles, or their finances are in disarray. This is possibly because they have a poor relationship to being their word in that area or all areas of their life. When we don’t keep our word, things stop working well in our lives.
Levels of Integrity
Do you know anyone who is known for being their word?
Someone who always follows through and does what they say they are going to do?
This is because they have a high level of relationship to their word. They are who they say they are, and they do what they say they are going to do.
Many years ago, I was renovating a property that had gone considerably over budget and the timeline had tripled. As I sat down with my accountant, we began to unravel what had actually been happening. We could see clearly that frequently changing my mind about the renovation, buying accessories that were outside the allocated budget, had considerably expanded the timeline and the budget.
I sat down and re-wrote out exactly what needed to be completed, the cost and a date of completion.
It was only when I was impacted by the pain of my bank account haemorrhaging money, did I realise that this could not continue. Many times we have to get to the pain point before we make a significant change.
When we don’t honour our word, it is like the building that has been built on loose foundations, where eventually cracks will begin to appear. For us, cracks will begin to appear in our finances, relationships, mental wellbeing, career and our performance in life. We begin to lose power, confidence in our ability and trust in what we can achieve diminishes.
So I took stock and set sail in a new direction heading away from pain and towards pleasure. I began to exercise the muscle of “being my word” consistently again in all areas of my life. That meant every time my mind gave me a reason or excuse or suggestion or rationalised why I should buy a certain item outside my budget, I just told myself a resounding “No” and stuck to my honouring my word to keep within budget.
The same goes for you. Where in your diary does it say go to the gym, or do not eat past 8pm and then you do. Each time you lessen your personal power when you don’t honour your word to yourself and to others. It is a muscle of seeing the impact of breaking your word is tantamount to the nail in the coffin of your power, confidence and peace of mind.
When you keep your word to yourself and others, you grow in stature, you expand, your become powerful. You know yourself and someone of integrity, who is trustworthy and honourable even when nobody is looking.
If it doesn’t work for structures, organisations and goods we buy, why would it work for us. But we do go through life, as it not honouring our word works and just put our head in the sand, oblivious to the carnage that is happening around us.
Hindrance To Our Word
So what hinders us honouring our word. Two words, reasons and excuses. Two small words but they have such huge impact in our lives.
I was having a conversation with my mentor and I was telling him the reason why I couldn’t finish my business plan that week, as I had to deliver a workshop and then I had to prepare for a keynote.
He sat quietly listening and then said “You know you just made that up, don’t you”.
I said, “No, it’s true”.
He said “I am sure it is true to you, but you know it’s just made up. If I said to you that if you finished the business plan by Friday, I would gift £100,000 towards your business, would you finish it by that deadline?”
I laughed and said “Yes, of course”.
He smiled, “There you are, your reason is not fixed. You just made it up to justify not finishing the business plan and then you bought into that excuse and made it real.”
I had to laugh. All the years I had been justifying, convincing myself why something was not possible by my reasons and excuses as if they were true. Truth is what you say it is, so say something that expands your existence, not diminishes it.
It was only a month after that that I was fortunate enough to enrol in a seven month leadership development course that was designed to be challenging. So much so that every day, I had to deal with my resistance to break bad habits, patterns and behaviours that were so ingrained that they were as comforting as a warm bed but as destructive as a hurricane on my life. I had to constantly be aware of thoughts, feelings, reasons and excuses that constantly held me back and had me break my word to myself every day.
My life had become unworkable because I was always making excuses to myself as to why I couldn’t meet a deadline, go to the gym, write an article, the list was endless. Instead of just knowing myself as someone that if I said I was going to start writing my book at 8am, that is what I did. My word is my bond.
I had to create a powerful relationship to Honouring My Word.
Integrity is like a mountain with no top
The journey of knowing yourself as someone who honours their word is a long road. Plus the bigger your game is in life, the more you will be jumping in and out of your word. It is like spinning plates, a few are going to get dropped along the way. The thing is, do you go and clear up the mess straight away. Do you have conversations with people and re-promise or do you sweep the broken crockery under the carpet hoping that the person walking on it, won’t notice it. But trust me they do and their unconscious files it away but it is still there.
Clean up time
Going forward, I would encourage you to start to clean out the closets in your life. Bring workability and order back and see your head space clear up. You will be able to breath again. Therefore make a list of all the areas in your life where you have neglected keeping your word:
- Going to the gym
- Paying off a bill
- Returning a difficult phone call
- Going to see your sister
- Changing the address on your drivers license
- Having a conversation with somebody that you have been putting off
Clean up your house, your car, your desk. Look at all the things that are still outstanding. Things that you said you would do but you just keep putting them off, like painting the spare room, or visiting your auntie. Start exercising the integrity muscle. Start with the small and the bigger things will follow.
Look at some areas of your life that you could start writing a list where workability is missing.
- Family and Friends
- Mental Wellbeing
Over time, being your word will become your default way of being, if you are consistent and persevere with it. If it has taken you 20, 30 years of being sporadic and picking and choosing when you will honour your word, then it may take quite a while to create a new habit, a new pattern, a new and powerful way of knowing yourself and a new relationship with your word.
The mountain of integrity never stops. It is like climbing a mountain that has no top. But as you go through life honouring your word, re-promising when you have to break your word, you will find that underneath you the ground is a lot more solid for the climb ahead.
Become known as someone who is their WORD and watch you as a person and areas of your life grow and become solid, whole and complete.
Why? because that is who you are, whole, perfect and complete.