The state of being whole and complete
What is integrity? There are a number of definitions out there. Basically, those definitions fall into two camps:
- The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
This is the camp that claims the high moral ground and has a strong emphasis on honesty.
- The state of being whole and undivided.
This camp is all about being sound and complete. Integrity for anything is the state of being whole, complete, unbroken, sound, in perfect condition. It is this definition that is most closely aligned with its Latin counterpart integritatem. And yep, you guessed it, integritatem is all about wholeness and being complete, lacking nothing…
A model for Integrity
A great model for integrity is a bicycle wheel which has anything from 28 to 36 spokes. Now imagine removing or even bending some of those spokes. What would happen then? If one or two are missing the wheel will still “hold together”. What if we remove some more? How many missing spokes does it take to buckle the wheel? What if the terrain gets really rough?
Continuing the bicycle wheel analogy a little further, let’s consider Alignment. Imagine the back and front wheels are not straight or moving in exactly the same direction. Alignment is all about agreement, alliance and correct positioning. When alignment does not exist there is no connection or sense of purpose. Remember that bumpy terrain I was talking about earlier… now put yourself on the bicycle seat and add some speed. How does it feel? Not that great and the reasons are obvious.
Stop the wobble before the wheel collapses
We don’t expect a bicycle wheel to function with a lack of Integrity and yet we expect that of ourselves. Think about it. How much integrity do you demonstrate? Integrity is required to create the maximum opportunity for performance and quickly generate trust. Where are you out of alignment?
Where do you say one thing and turn around and do another? That is one level of it; Integrity at the level of your word. Integrity is something that is always on the way out (like the air in your tyres) as such it needs to be restored. If you are out of integrity with your word the answer is as simple as aligning What you say you do, and Who you say you are! NO integrity, NO trust! And if you’re the one coming up short in the integrity stakes, how do you trust yourself or expect others to trust you?
What about values?
A harder issue to tackle is when you are out of alignment outside of yourself. If you experience degree of unrest or unhappiness, lack of ease, call it what you want there is a good chance there is a lack of alignment between you and it. Whatever, “it” is. For example, you spend a third of your day at work. There is a good chance you spend up to two hours commuting. That’s almost half the day gone. Do you love what you do?
Now I know not everyone has that luxury and for most of the planet work is about survival, plain and simple. Does your workplace stand for values you can or are aligned with? If not, how far apart are the values sets? What would it take to bring them closer together? Is that even possible? Think bicycle wheel and think about the integrity of that wheel? Are there any light bulbs going off as to why you are unhappy at work? Of course the same argument applies to your relationships? What happens when you gather speed over the inevitable bumps in the road? The bicycle wheel will at best buckle and at worst collapse.
Flow coming from alignment
The flip side is flow. When there is a high degree of alignment, shared purpose and agreement on what is important and what is at stake, then flow and harmony is possible. Note I said possible, not guaranteed. It still involves some work, regular check-ins to ensure that you are on track and heading in the same direction.
Think bicycle wheel again.
Remember, to stay in integrity it takes continually re-aligning yourself and truing yourself up. Each of us has a picture of who we are and what we want our lives to be about. That picture emerges out of our values and what we hold dear. The closer we stay to that, the more content and connected we are. Health, in all its forms, arises out of integration. It’s that simple.
Lastly, integrity is a way of being. If you are keen to see where you sit on this score email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will give you access to a Leadership Profile at an introductory price.