I recently asked my therapist to chime in on areas that he thought were important for me to address in this blog. Top on his list was integrity. Integrity is a virtue. A virtue is a good habit, something that develops over time and that has to be practiced regularly for it to remain intact. Integrity is just such a virtue.
Integrity has to do with pieces fitting into a whole so that the whole is stronger than the sum of the parts. I like to think of a jet airliner as an example. One would think the thing could not fly, especially after being filled with passengers and luggage. In pieces, it’s just a pile of metal and plastic. But put together in the right way, it takes advantage of the cross-sectional design of a bird’s wing. The air flows across the wing so as to produce gravity-defying lift, as the engines provide forward motion.
The integrity of the design and construction of airliners saves lives. So does personal integrity. We achieve personal integrity when we take into account how the parts of our lives ought to fit together to their greatest potential for the sake of our whole lives: the social, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, ethical, and physical aspects. When young people are over-protected or traumatized by adults, or are not challenged to work out the relationship of the parts to the whole of their lives, they remain immature and end up lacking personal integrity.
Good coaching can help identify the strongest and most integrated aspects of a person’s life, and those areas that need to be worked on. When men enter into relationships of any kind, with lovers, with companies, or with institutions such as the military or the church, and lack personal integrity, those relationships are doomed to fail. The same can be said about institutions as well, when, as a corporate body, they lack sustaining integrity.
With personal integrity intact, a man can make better decisions for himself and those around him. He does his part to sustain long-term relationships and friendships. He balances his needs with the needs of those dependent upon him. He is humble because he has self-respect and pride. He hesitates twice before passing judgment. Ultimately, he is committed to the growth and maintenance of his personal integrity as the core of his life’s work.
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