By Sarah Bird
“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” ~ Alan Simpson
Integrity- what is it? We’re all totally in favour of it, but do we live it? We’d like our politicians to display integrity, we’d like bankers and property developers to display integrity. We’d especially like our colleagues and family to display integrity.
But if we are to be in integrity with others, we have to be in integrity with ourselves first. As David Gruder says in his book, The New IQ, “The single greatest thing that keeps us out of integrity with ourselves, others and the collective is our undigested life experiences.”
So how do we digest these life experiences and find freedom? There are many solutions offered and it comes down to making the best choice for us as individuals, because being in integrity with ourselves often demands that we change.
Are we prepared to walk the talk and make the oft-times difficult decisions that need to be made if we’re to be in integrity with our true selves – or do we show a mask to the world and live very differently? …
Several years ago, I was attending a day with an “enlightened being”, or so I was led to believe. I was disappointed to witness this person preaching one way of being but then modelling the opposite of what they were preaching. I sat there and thought, “the mask has slipped.”
Our values and beliefs are an expression of our spiritual connection and we have to be in line with them. If not, we become disconnected from our essence and so fall out of integrity.
The question we need to ask ourselves is as follows: “How can I maintain the abundant flow of life energy I need for authenticity, for connection and for service?”
Let’s take authenticity first. We all know intuitively when someone is not genuine. Again, look at some of the political and business community and it’s very easy to see where someone has stopped working in the public interest and started to become self-serving. Echoing the words of Tom Peters, “There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity.”
It’s less easy to spot, however, when we get into the ‘grey areas’ – when we can choose to have minor lapses in truthfulness, be untruthful, partially truthful or fully truthful. What is important is the intention behind the choice. Is it for my personal gain, or is it out of integrity and concern for your personal safety or our greater good?
Someone may have different values to me, but I can still appreciate how they are living their life through integrity to their beliefs and values.
Now let’s look at how integrity influences our sense of connection. At all times, we need to be aware of what we’re saying, aware of its consequences, aware of its ability to hurt others or make them feel like lesser human beings. If we are genuinely tuned in to what we’re saying and to its personal ramifications, and we take responsibility for what we’re saying, we walk the path of integrity.
And finally, we need to look at the concept of service if we are to display true integrity. Unlike servitude, service is a way of interacting with our fellow human beings with a deep respect that brings love into the equation.
Even if it’s just hoovering the house or washing up after dinner, you add a massive heaping of integrity to the experience if you can treat it as an act of love. The Latin expression probably sums it up best: ‘laborare est orare’ – to work is to pray. So, if you see someone who is struggling, offer help. If they look overwhelmed, is there something you can do to ease the load?
Integrity, in short, is the value that enhances all your other values and is the cornerstone of our character. It’s simply no longer acceptable to say to others, “Do as I say”, it’s got to become a matter of, “Do as I do”. So resolve today to live your life from a place of integrity. No other quality has the ability to enhance all aspects of your life to such a degree, and to add fulfilment and enrichment to both your own life and those around you.
“Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” ~David Star Jordan, The Philosophy of Despair
Sarah Bird is a Personal Development Consultant and a leading practitioner of Energy Psychology Techniques and Non-violent Communication. For information on consultations and workshops, log onto www.sarahbird.ie