image courtesy of shutterstock.comMy intention with each of these posts is that you’re challenged to interrupt the noise and routine in your life, just for a moment, to think more deeply about what really matters in life… your relationship with yourself and with others in your professional and personal life.
Welcome to this month’s Tap Into Trust topic.
Each month through 2021, I’ve made a commitment to Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around The World (TAA-TAW) to research and explore a specific topic that focuses on how trust impacts almost every measure of success in our professional and personal life.
I will be using the acronym TAP INTO TRUST which is an initiative from TAA-TAW.
Each letter in the acronym TAP INTO TRUST represents a one-word topic. Here’s the video for Episode 4 on Integrity (If you’d rather read than watch, the transcript is below).
This month’s topic is on Integrity
Here’s an aspirational action-based statement for you to use this month as you think about and apply this information and strategies on Integrity:
I am consistent in my values, decisions, and actions. I keep my commitments.
Over most of my adult life, academically I have been studying the topic of integrity.
Initially, I researched the impact of integrity from a business, leadership and success perspective when completing my MBA.
Then, while undertaking my Master degree in Professional Ethics I studied integrity from a philosophical and ethical perspective.
For almost a decade now, I’ve been researching the topic of integrity from a behavioural science and positive psychology perspective through my Master of Science degree in Applied Positive Psychology.
The Evidence is Clear – Integrity Matters
My reason for highlighting my academic research into integrity here, is not to impress you, but rather to impress upon you, the evidence is clear that integrity matters.
In his wonderful book titled Integrity: The courage to meet the demands of reality, the author Dr Henry Cloud shares this:
“Often, we do not connect the dots with how integrity of character really works day to day, and how it affects our real results in the areas of life which matter to us most.”
And I reckon … no, I know he is right in what he says … while integrity matters, and while most of us get that integrity matters, just how much it matters, especially in the most important areas of our lives, is something we all need to be even more aware of.
A fairly common definition of integrity is having the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.
Another is that integrity is being able to act in accordance with one’s values in the face of adversity.
Of course, one of the issues here is when one person’s values are in conflict with another person’s values … each may be acting in alignment with their own values and therefore be demonstrating integrity, but trust in each other may not be achieved.
Six Abilities To Demonstrate Integrity
To overcome this, in his book, Henry Cloud offers a more practical (but far from easy) blueprint that covers six abilities that are all dimensions of character, that we need to apply for us to be demonstrating integrity.
The first is the ability to connect with others authentically. This is how trust is built. It starts with a genuine intention to connect, to be trustworthy, and to have the courage to trust in others.
The second ability required to demonstrate integrity is to be oriented toward the truth. This is important, especially in our current environment where fake news and opinions (rather than facts) are spread across social and traditional media outlets.
To genuinely seek the truth through collaboration with others will lead to operating in reality with a higher likelihood of success, rather than stumbling amidst false realities, which will make success more difficult.
The third ability required to demonstrate integrity is to work in a way that gets results. When we talk of integrity, we can’t just be talking about character, we must also talk about results. Acting with integrity means achieving goals – personally and professionally on individual and collective levels.
The fourth ability required to demonstrate integrity is the ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative. This is very much aligned with the second ability around seeking truth and operating in reality.
To act with integrity means dealing with the tough stuff that life presents us. Only when we embrace and engage with the negative situations that exist in the real world can we better manage, resolve, and transform problems into new opportunities.
The fifth ability required to demonstrate integrity is to be oriented toward growth. In his book, Henry Cloud explains this dimension of character is not about wanting and having more from a perspective of greed, but rather as “a curiosity and drive to develop into more ability, more knowledge, more completeness, and ultimately, more experience.”
The sixth and final ability required to demonstrate integrity is what Henry Cloud refers to as having an orientation toward transcendence.
While this might at first sound religious or spiritual, on a more practical level, this means trying our best to get beyond our innate selfishness and being able to connect with life in its larger sense through finding meaning beyond just our own existence.
How we find that meaning is often through our relationships, our work, a worthy cause or charity, community involvement and a host of other opportunities that demonstrate we get that life isn’t just about ourselves.
Being Oriented Toward
OK … so we can see that integrity is far more than just acting in ways that are aligned with our values and more than just being honest and having strong moral principles.
In fact, having integrity and acting with integrity can be tougher than most of us think.
However, for me, what resonates most about Henry Cloud’s six dimensions of character that lead to integrity, is that he uses the words ‘oriented toward’.
Being oriented toward allows for the reality that none of us are perfect, and it allows us to focus on our intentions to act with integrity … even though at times we may fail.
What also resonates for me is that Henry Cloud starts his six dimensions of character and integrity with the ability to connect with others authentically.
Through all of my research, it is this that creates the platform for a more meaningful, flourishing, and prosperous life … to have a genuine intention to connect authentically with others and to make life better for them in some ways.
This, as Henry Cloud also says, will lead to trust. It will enhance our own sense of self-trust; it will increase our propensity to trust in others; and finally, it will develop and demonstrate our capacity to earn others’ trust.
So, for this next month and beyond, focus on being even more oriented toward integrity. Be more oriented toward connecting with others; be more oriented toward seeking the truth; be more oriented toward achieving results; be more oriented toward embracing, engaging and dealing with the negative; be more oriented toward growth; and be more oriented toward transcendence.
Next month’s topic is on Noticing. For now though, that’s it for this month’s topic on Integrity and until next time, my very best to you.