1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship's hull.
It has also been said that without integrity, nothing works. Let’s take a look at that. A bicycle wheel, if the spokes are missing- it doesn’t work so well. Integrity of your word, if it is lacking, no one believes you and your word has no power.
Awhile ago, my word had ZERO integrity. I would lie through my teeth and dare someone to call me out on it. Seriously! Nothing much worse than a brazen liar. If you have known me over the past 6 years or so, this may sound absurd. But let me assure you, there was zero, nada, zilcho. Nothing like now. This was before I understood the immense power that a person’s word wielded and I was being simply forceful. No beuno. At.All. BIG difference between being powerful and forceful. Over the years, I started to have the experience of the power of my word…when I kept it. I then took on a deep meaningful relationship with my word. If I said it, then I made damn sure that I delivered it- come hell or high water. This also caused me to be careful to just what I gave my word to as well. I wanted others to know that if I said it, then it must be true. They could count on me. It was about this time that I began to understand accountability as being count-on-able. Neither concept is easy to execute. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes love. It takes grace. And, you will fail at this. You cannot do it 100% of the time. We are still human after all. But what we can do is considerably decrease the fail rate.
A couple of tricks for you kiddies at home…if something isn’t working, look to see where integrity is out. And if you know that something is lacking integrity- you better not expect to work somehow anyhow. That is where I found myself at yesterday.
I had a beautiful project fall into my lap recently. It had just about everything that I could have wanted: room to stretch into the position, challenge, glitz, an opportunity to make the world a better place with the work that was being done, and the promise of a fabulous payday. Everything that I had said that I wanted to be about…yup…it was there. Everything but one thing: integrity. But it didn’t occur for me like that at first.
I was in love with the project and yet every time that I would get close to it, my gut would have red flags popping up all over it. I checked myself to see if this was because it was larger than anything that I had ever done; if the knot in my stomach was self doubt. I spent time meditating on it, seeking wisdom from my advisors; even looking back on how my unique skills would blow anyone else away that was being considered for this position. I knew that I had this one in the bag. I was ready. Like, really ready. Yet there was that pang inside when we would talk about budgets, contracts, and time frame.
Now, I am a passionate supporter of there being more than one way to skin a cat (figuratively of course), and there are still some things that need to follow a particular flow, path, etc. You could look at this as integrity of the life cycle of a project. Sure it would have an organic flow to it…and there still needed to be a foundation built first.
Major lesson learned: if the foundation isn’t built with integrity, NOTHING will be sustainable.
So yesterday I had to make a choice. I could no longer ignore my gut. I either needed to be all in, or all out. I would have needed to answer to my team that I brought on. And with a question in my heart, I could not lead them with the best of my ability. I bowed out from what had the potential to be a huge win…and what could have possibly ruined me, any chance for my business, and the team that I would have created as well as their families that were depending on them.
And here I am. I risked big. During the month of April, I had three deals that I was lining up for May’s income fall through- all in one week. Then, I had this project fall into my lap that I thought would catch me back up and set me up for the rest of the year. And I chose to walk away from it, knowing that I am financially not well for the next couple of months but staying true to myself: Maintaining my integrity. So since I risked big, does that mean that I now lost big? Nah. It’s just money. I may need to humble myself and talk to my landlord, but still know who I am. My integrity and dignity are still intact. And just so that you know, they’re not for sale. Not even for all stars in Hollywood.
*Now accepting random acts of kindness and side work ;-)