“What we do with that potential
– The Big Picture, by Ben Carson, p. 125.
Your potential is your starting line. Everyone has a different
“It’s not where you start it’s where you finish
As time goes on I become more convinced that many of the problems we face are the direct result of trying to compartmentalize the different parts of our lives, sometimes going as far as having different principles for each. Lately I’ve been trying to tear down these silos in my own life and live with a commitment toward greater alignment between my values and my words, attitudes and actions.
While I’m convinced this is the right move, it is not without its hazards — focus for one has become a casualty. So often I’ll find myself listening to a sermon at church and thinking, that’s a great theme for this week’s business presentation or thinking a “God-thought” during a business meeting. This apparent lack of focus can be downright frustrating. Then again, I’m convinced that it’s the way I should have been living all along, as one person with just one set of values and beliefs, who happens to wear many hats. There is something very liberating about being my true self at all times. Becoming more genuine means there isn’t as much to remember because I am no longer a slave to the opinions of others. I’m smiling just thinking about this rediscovered freedom!
Another hazard will happen when people discover the new me (or is it the real me they didn’t know because of my silos?) Will they be confused? Will they be afraid? Will they think I’ve changed? Well yes, I am changing. But, only in the sense that I’m changing back into just one person. Good-bye schizophrenia! Will they think I “got religion?” (I’m smiling again.)
One way I feel the change is in my willingness to admit a goof-up. I’m not talking about moral failings as much as those trivial flubs that make me look like a klutz or a dope. It’s a lot easier to laugh about them. If people want to think I’m a big dummy, let them! (I just did 10 more reps with the smile muscles.)
Where in your life can you become more genuine? You don’t have to surrender the private parts of your life with the whole world. You do have to make sure they are in full alignment with your true values. Then you too can be liberated.
Red Skelton (1913-1997), American comedian, radio, and television star.
[ H=Heart | Index | J=Joviality ]
Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism
A familiar story with a new sequel every two years, cheating Olympians, completely baffles me. Why are certain athletes willing to trade their integrity for an Olympic medal? Why are certain coaches and/or trainers willing to look the other way or even aid and abet? Don’t they realize that wearing a gold medal and being an Olympic champion are not equivalent? There is no victory in cheating.
“Winning is nice if you don’t lose your integrity in the process.” — attributed to Arnold Horshak, character in the television sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter”
“…a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.” — from the Disney movie “Cool Runnings”
Playing by the rules is more than sportsmanship. It is a reflection of honesty: honesty toward others and honesty with one’s self. And isn’t honesty at the heart of integrity? There’s another integrity aspect: having and following a “moral compass.”
“Integrity means adopting a morally strong value system and having the honesty, courage and conviction to live and act within these values.” — Clancy Cross
This definition leads to two thoughts. First, integrity is an inside job, which means it’s a personal decision.
“We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice.” — John C. Maxwell
“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” — John C. Maxwell
Second, integrity is so important to building and maintaining relationships that a person’s greatest gift may be to live a life of integrity that inspires and encourages others to raise their standards and commitment to integrity. Ideally, an integrity foundation is built in the home during the formative childhood years and is forever nurtured by teachers, pastors, friends, colleagues and others.
“The reward for doing right is mostly an internal phenomenon: self-respect, dignity, integrity, and self- esteem.” — Dr. Laura Schlessinger
“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.” — Bible, Proverbs 20:7
“The effect of one upright individual is incalculable.” — Oscar Arias
“The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.” — Socrates
This ideal picture of integrity breaks down because inevitably, moral and ethical principles will be violated. The realization that human perfection is unachievable is not a new revelation. So, how can there be integrity when everyone commits violations against his own principles? It would seem that the only logical alternative for avoiding universal hypocrisy is to adopt a personal philosophy devoid of moral principles. Some would say “moral relativism” is an attempt to do just that. (That’s a topic for another day.) Actually, the paradox dissolves when we fully understand the final piece of integrity.
“Honor isn’t about making the right choices. It’s about dealing with the consequences.” — Midori Koto
How does a person of integrity respond to his own moral failings? First, he makes a humble admission of and apology for the offense, totally free of excuses. Conversely, “I’m sorry I did it, but …” is hardly an effective confession. Second, the person of integrity takes ownership of the consequences and makes appropriate reparations. Finally, integrity demands a commitment to do better. After that, the rest is up to those who were offended. Will they forgive? Will they hold a grudge? Whatever the aggrieved party decides, a person of the highest integrity will accept the verdict with grace and move on.
Humility is what allows integrity to survive moral indiscretions. Even so, it’s important to realize that it takes more time to develop integrity than to destroy it and even more time to restore it when it is damaged. While Integrity has some room for errors, just one momentary indiscretion has the potential to be a major setback against a lifetime of progress. This implies that people serious about their integrity should behave as if any violation will destroy it and when necessary, respond with humility and urgency to restore it.
“Honor is like a steep island without a shore: one cannot return once one is outside.” — Nicholas Boileau-Despréaux
“Character is much easier kept than recovered.” — Thomas Paine, author, statesman
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” — William Shakespeare
Life without integrity is a miserable and pathetic existence. So, in a sense, hanging on to integrity is a matter of life and death.
“What is left when honor is lost?” — Publilius Syrus (~100 BC), Maxims
“Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.” — Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
© Copyright September 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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