Unwavering integrity is vital for entrepreneurs in business and in all relationships
My first piece of this series called The “C” in COURAGE is for Commitment saluted each and every single individual that has ever taken a stand to courageously step out of their own comfort zone to reach for a dream, because when dreams come true they nourish the soul of humanity. The second piece was about “O” for organization and the benefits which arise from this discipline. This part “U” focuses on Unwavering integrity in all relationships.
Unwavering Integrity may be the most important aspect of COURAGE when it comes to taking risks powerfully. If we want to start a business, embark on a new career, go after a seemingly impossible dream, or get married, having integrity is critical because trust is essential in all relationships. If we are in any way viewed as lacking integrity, we cannot possibly build the relationships necessary to accomplish our goals. Relationships are important – no one accomplishes great things in a vacuum. But, we must first shift the definition of integrity because honesty and strong moral principles alone will not suffice.
People talk about integrity a lot these days.
The word is used to describe the quality of being honest, or refers to having ethical and moral fortitude. Integrity is a highly valued quality in our culture. We want the people in our lives to have integrity. We recognize immediately when someone lacks integrity and we then judge and dismiss them. But I believe this view of integrity is incomplete because it is based on one person’s or group of persons’ point of view of what it means to be honest or to have moral uprightness.
It is a judgmental concept that arises from a dualistic world in which we label people as “right” or “wrong,” “good” or “bad” all according to our own individual belief system or the belief system handed down to us by a religion or a societal construct. We are “good” when we follow rules; it is “right” to obey the Ten Commandments; we are “bad” if we steal, we are “wrong” when we cheat on our spouse. We judge ourselves and others according to what we have learned are right and wrong. Unfortunately, since there are so many different systems of morality, and because human beings are not perfect, we can never quite be the person of integrity that we aspire to be and neither can anyone in our lives, which makes us all broken somehow.
In our pursuit of perfection, we end up living to please the outside world, to look good for “them” and we fail to discover what our own truth is. This is a tragedy.
The problem with a dualistic system
The problem with a dualistic system in which we judge and are judged by others is that life becomes all about how we are viewed and perceived by others. In such a system, there is always room for “being bad” when no one is watching. We fall into the trap of living our lives according to how another will judge us. If there is no one to judge us, then all bets are off. That is why integrity has become such a relative thing and for the most part we are at best, flippant about it, and at worst, we convince ourselves that lying is okay as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or that it is okay to cheat on our spouse because we’re not happy anyway, and they’ll never find out.
There are a million excuses we use to justify our “wrong” behaviors when in the end, we are not being true to ourselves and instead, are focused on looking good and making sure we don’t get caught doing that “bad” thing that we don’t really think is so bad anyway. This applies even to when we are the one judging ourselves.
Unwavering integrity is about being true to self first.
It’s more about what works and doesn’t work according to the commitments and the agreements we have made with ourselves and others, versus what’s right or wrong, good or bad. It’s about keeping our word. There is nothing more powerful than keeping your word. And it’s a very personal thing. If we leave judgment (even of ourselves) out of the picture we are left with looking at what works to have us feel whole and complete about what we’ve agreed to (our word) in order to fulfill on a commitment, rather than whether we followed all the rules or not.
Sometimes it works to break a rule because rules are not always perfect. For example, when faced with the decision to remove life support from a dying loved one; a family can be extremely challenged in making the decision because of laws and societal expectations. But when viewed from the standpoint of what they are committed to for their loved one, the decision can be made much more freely and with true integrity rather than because it is the “right” or “wrong” thing to do.