Integrity as a process

Integrity.  On Stephen Covey’s video tutorial on the four areas of life (body, heart, mind, spirit), he examines the word “integrity” and links it with the word “integrated”, resulting in a holistic state of being connected.  Are you connected?

I am connecting.  The insight into this take on integrity is the action involved.  It’s not a pious value to be put on a pedestal.  Integrity is an ongoing process of connecting with others everyday.  Living by principles on a daily basis while we interact with the people in our lives is a balancing act.  It’s also the microcosmic process of connecting the four areas of your own life.  This is what I spoke to in my first blog entry as personal synthesis.

I am an introverted extravert, meaning I need to connect and I need time to reflect on my own.  According to the Myers-Brigg personality type system, I am an ENFP.  Here’s the breakdown on the ENFPs: http://www.personalitypage.com/ENFP.html.  That’s an outstandingly accurate depiction of me. I tend to have issues with balancing the “me” time and the social time.  (If you haven’t taken the personality test yet to figure out your type, I highly recommend it.  Find out your personality type at this link: http://www.personalitypage.com/home.html.)

Successful people know how crucial relationships are in life.  Some would even say they are the most important aspect of life.  So why do we go lax in our social and professional lives?  Or in our personal lives?  We not only have to nurture these relationships, we have to tend to our relationship with self.

Stephen Covey literally wrote the book on successful people in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  Staying connected within your circle of influence is paramount to keeping your life moving in the right direction.  But there are two aspects of balance at play: the social and the personal.  You can’t function socially to the best of your ability if you are fragmented on a personal scale.

I am pointing these things out for myself but with the intention that it may help others in the process.  I know I need to stay connected.  While “trying my best” is my mantra, I have messed up with people in the past.  Mainly, I’ve withdrawn and gone into my little self-absorption bubble too many times. But that’s what’s so ingenious about looking at integrity as a process.  You admit when you are wrong, try to make amends, and keep moving forward.

“Everything is connected to everything else.” Stephen Covey

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Integrity in the workplace and beyond

I have been working for fourteen years now.  ‘What’s that?’  You say.  ‘You’re not even thirty yet?’  It is true though.  I have worked consistently since I was sixteen years old when I was able to apply for my working permit.  Yes, I am counting the waitress and cashier jobs at the pizzeria and the bagel shop – all work counts as experience.  These jobs were my core foundation in customer service and the very principles I still hold onto today.  Simple tried and true principles like courtesy and respect… From day one, you are honing skills if you are paying attention and applying them.

Thirteen of these years have been spent in offices.  And, fortunately, I have had the opportunity to start my career with extraordinarily good people and upright companies.  These leaders of the profit and non-profit worlds have demonstrated the meaning of integrity in the everyday.  Sure there are always moments of frustration, mistakes abound, people have power trips… but what was ingrained in me was a deep sense of right and wrong in the workplace.

I can’t pinpoint the very moment when I started to realize that my work experiences were something of an exception to the rule.  It’s probably been in the last few years though.  My more recent perception has been that there is a real absence of integrity “out there” so much so that it hardens you up a bit.  You have to toughen up and look at others through different lenses.  I am still a proponent of reserving judgments at least until you’ve gathered a good deal of information and experience with another human being.  On the other hand, in often quick and dirty business exchanges, you have to set your lenses to ones of caution.

We are conditioned not to trust.  We are expecting insincerity and deceit.  And in that regard, we wield our own virtual spears of insincerity and lack of integrity.  But, the eternal optimist that I am, I still believe in the inherent goodness of others.

Lately, I have been listening to my audio book of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (for more on Stephen Covey – go here.)  There is a reason why Stephen Covey has something of a cult following.  It’s because his advice resonates with what we all know to be true.  Call me new-agey if you’d like.  But I believe we are on the cusp of a societal shift.  I would like to see it shift to one where principles like integrity are seen as the norm and not the exception.  I would like to see it shift so that people treat each other with more heart and less caution and disdain.  I’d like to see us dream big.

That’s my two cents on integrity.  Please pray for Haiti and donate as generously as you can.  God bless.

-S