I always thought I was a person of integrity…that is until I examined the many ways in which I wriggled out of taking responsibility and blamed others for my disappointments in life. I refused to believe I had choices. I used my own brand of logic, my background in history, and my knowledge of theology and spirituality to justify myself.
Integrity, as James Dickson says, is a testament to the basic need that each of us must be whole and complete. He advised me to watch for and prepare for correct cycles in my life before stopping or starting any part of my vision (see my previous posting on Cycles and Process). “Once the cycle starts trust the process and take with you the only currency you have in this world, which is your integrity.”
As I’ve sought integrity in my own life I’ve also wondered if integrity might have become an old-fashioned concept. We don’t have to go far to see examples in Congress and in the higher echelons of business and religion. When American graduate students were asked about cheating in college, half to two-thirds admitted to copying someone else’s work or outright fraud in tests or papers. I still can’t get used to the way in which many of my colleagues in coaching resort to infomercials and bait and switch approaches to sell their services.
I’m probably being judgmental and hypersensitive. Or maybe I’m just out of step with the way things are done today. Or perhaps I wish more from my fellow humans and am expecting too much.
It could also be my “Judge Judy” syndrome. That judgment seat is always a comfy place for me to sit. Any perspective where I can feel ethically or intellectually superior to others has been always been a trap for me. It speaks of my lack of integrity.
Dickson says, “Those that proclaim they have integrity do not. Holding integrity is like holding a heart beat (similar to holding your breath). It can’t be done while you are alive.” I take from his words that integrity is not something I can ever own or possess, even for a nanosecond. It is not something I can achieve by sheer will. It is a quality that, if I do have it, I cannot see within me. Once I think I do possess integrity I automatically forfeit it. Pride undoes any hint of real integrity.
So if I understand Dickson integrity is like currency. It’s what I have to spend in my interactions with myself and others as I ride the crest of the life cycle I’m supposed to be on. This is the process that leads to the next wave. It’s all so immediate; there’s no room for second-guessing or for a do-over. In this moment I am compelled to ask: Am I bringing forth consciously the totality of who I am without prejudgment, ready to do the next right thing?
The really difficult piece is listening to my heart where integrity resides. My brain-habits based in logic and academics may soothe my ego short-term. They may provide exit strategies out of uncomfortable situations.
No, I need a pure heart, open to my own brokenness and unmet expectations, humbled by my pride and self-sabotaging, and receptive and open the universal vibration of what already is. So if asked I must say that I do not have integrity. I simply am in my totality, in this moment, without attachment to outcome or knowledge of the next step…and with the faith that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Period.
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