Monday, July 6, 2015
I was the kid all through school who was called to the Principal's office to be rewarded or patted on the back. I don't remember trying particularly hard to get this sort of affirmation, but it happened to me again and again, regardless. In 7th grade, I was called to the office on three different occasions as our Principal was trying to make it a habit to celebrate "student leaders" and encourage them to keep being role models among their peers.
Each visit was exactly the same and I am pretty sure the same kids were invited every time. There was a boy and a girl representative from each grade and we would sit around the conference table in the Main Office with our Principal at the head. There would be some brightly colored cupcake in front of each of us and Mr. Bibb would make his speech.
"Does anyone in here know what Integrity is?"
"Integrity is doing what you say you will do. It is being the same person out in the crowd that you are at home when no one is looking. Each of you has been chosen today because you are people of integrity and this is why you are leaders in our school."
I have always remembered this short speech and really valued what our Principal said even though I knew it was sort of a joke to get invited to this praise-fest in the first place. Integrity was an important character trait that my Dad made sure that I had from the get-go and I understood why, even then.
We experience a lot of disingenuous, inauthentic people in our day-to-day living and I have a really hard time with this reality. I know that people tend to have pet-peeves over things that they have either worked on riding themselves of or things that they just don't do, so for me, watching folks say one thing and do another drives me crazy.
It doesn't drive me crazy in a way that makes me annoyed and not like people like this, mainly, it just makes so sad that they don't know how good it is to just be real.
Integrity is linked closely to authenticity and worthiness in my book. Living a fully authentic life is the most rewarding joyful experience that I can imagine for people on this Earth and I believe this is what we are called to do. The amount of energy it takes to agree with one set of people and disagree with another, while never actually representing your ideas at all, is simply...exhausting. To spend your day to day saying "yes" to everything and knowing before you even heard the words come out of your mouth that you can't even do it in the first place, is heart breaking. People compromise their souls, their thoughts, their values, everything in this way of living.
Scripture reminds us that we should not "let our words fall to the ground". When I find myself in situations where in-authenticity is creeping up in my own personal experience, I imagine what my words are doing as they flop out of my mouth. If I see them crashing to the floor and breaking into a thousand pieces, I know that I have betrayed myself and I am compromising something that I think is important. I know I was made for more than empty posturing and promises. When I speak, I want to speak truth and speak words that matter. Words that linger in the air, that penetrate the heart and soul and are carried away by the receiver whomever and whatever that receiver is. I want people to walk away and know that what I said I will do, I will do. Who I said that I am, I am.
I don't want there to be "sides" of me, but just me all the time.
For working relationships, a key component of building trust among staff is to be a people of integrity. It is very hard to work with or for someone who does not follow through or does not do what they say they will do. It is even harder to trust someone who tells you they are one way and then demonstrates that they are not this way at all. You can't get a grasp on who you are working with and you certainly don't feel safe with them or feel comfortable depending on them.
Having integrity, being authentically who you are, doing what you say you will do, making your words matter, are all ways that people can grow to be respected among their peers and community. This is such an important leadership tool and such an important way of being.
I can't say that I have this down to a T, but I certainly try and that is all it takes to change a behavior for good. So, perhaps you'd like to ponder this with me?
Are you the same person at home that you are out in public? Are you the same person with your family that you are with your friends? Do you follow through with your plans and your promises? Is the person you describe as you, really you? Is this as important to you as it is to me? Do we all have a lot of work to do?