Without Integrity 1 Nothing Works. Sounds Good. Sounds Weird. It’s True! But Why?
I am borrowing that phrase, “without integrity nothing works” from Landmark.
It’s a catchy slogan. When things aren’t working, you can look where is your integrity, you put it back in, or not, and that’s that. Life either starts working or not.
Yeah, but why? Why would integrity matter?
Let’s first examine what we’ll call integrity, what it means that your integrity is in or out, and then we’ll look at one area that is enough to make life insufferable, and it definitely connected to integrity.
OK. What is integrity?
According to Landmark, there are levels of integrity.
Level one is the level we all know, and it says that you keep your promises. You promise something you deliver. It’s simple, really.
It has another layer though that we rarely honor in “real” life, and that is: timeliness. If you promised to do something by Monday 12 pm, then by 12 pm it’s delivered (not just done) or your integrity is out.
What happens if you realize that you made a mistake and you won’t be able to do what you promised? That’s another thing in “real” life we don’t talk about. Integrity says: if you promised and you can’t deliver, or can’t deliver on time, then your job is to communicate to the people you promised to. Say something like: I promised, I realized I won’t do it, (or won’t don it on time) and I am communicating as soon as I found out so you can find someone else to do it.
And the last “layer” of the first level is: do it as it was meant to be done, without cutting corners, in an empowering context, and do it the way you could be expected to do it, even if you didn’t promise to do it.
Oh, I almost forgot: … and do it cheerfully, not as a martyr, not as a sacrifice, but as a willing gift. You could be doing everything you promised but make the recipient feel like someone on the welfare roll… and your integrity is out.
That is the first level. If you look at your life you’ll see that you probably have never had any integrity. Or if you did, for moments… and then it was out. Hm, this looks tough… 2
Now, why would I say that without integrity nothing works? I mean your life doesn’t work unless you have integrity. Why would I say that? Especially if integrity is almost impossible!
Let me give you an example, something I saw, for the first time, and it happened today.
I have a dear friend who loves making promises. He promises to help, make phone calls for you, do things for you. And a lot of it he actually does. But not all of it. And not on time…
So he promised to help me with my car which is on its last legs, but I am not ready yet to buy another one. So he offered to put me in touch with a back-yard mechanic, drop the car off, and then take me to my mail-box and then home. I was elated. How nice of him.
In the approximately 15 minutes we had 8 arguments. Anything I said landed wrong, anything he said landed wrong.
We weren’t in love for those 15 minutes, and maybe for the rest of the day.
What does THIS have to do with integrity? Everything!
Everything I said landed on the top of a bunch of unkept promises he had made, to me and to others. That was the context. So, to him, I sounded like I was attacking him. Like I was reminding him all the things he didn’t do instead of appreciating what he was doing. But when it comes to promises, the promises not kept are the only ones that people remember!
Everything he said landed poorly on me, because it felt like he was doing me a favor (which he was) but there was no good cheer, just obligation, and that didn’t feel good to me. I suddenly regretted even accepting his offer to help.
So, where is the “nothing works” in this?
You see, I am just one person. But he talks to 20-30 people a day, family, clients, friends, and some of them have experienced disappointments with him promising things he didn’t do. So the conversation is always edgy, and the relationships suffer.
And I say, when your relationships are strained, your life is strained: a far cry from your life working.
I have seen this with a lot of clients, but have never connected it with integrity. So my friend is not unique in this, he is more the rule, than the exception.
Which sadly means: for most of us, our lives don’t work.
- The major question is: is integrity a black and white phenomenon, like pregnancy: you either have it or you don’t, or is it a sliding scale. Any ideas? Please comment below
- but wait, there is more! I put it in the footnotes, because for a “normal” human being this is way above where they are even willing to look…
Level two: Your level two is an inside deal. You have ideals, you have standards. you have principles. Even if no one knows, if you violate any of those, then you are out of integrity.
One of my principles is to never work for money. Said in another way: never do anything for money that I would not do for free.
That means that I must enjoy, or otherwise benefit from doing the thing… or I won’t do it, and I won’t do it for payment.
Sometimes I unwittingly book an appointment, or create a project that, while in the middle of, I realize that I definitely would not do this for free.
So what do I do? I finish the appointment, or finish the project, and then won’t do it again. I won’t beat myself up, I just return myself to integrity.
The third level is tough, and I hardly know anyone who even considers doing it. The third level says: Be true to yourself: Honor your word as yourself.
What does this “honor your word as yourself?” No one ever explains it, but I have been living it, so I have some insight.
In order to honor your word as yourself, you need to first honor and respect yourself, Maybe even love. Whatever that means…
The second requirement is that you use your words thoughtfully. That you use your words fully knowing that your words create reality. And your words need to be in integrity with the first two levels… not easy.
You see, it is a requirement for integrity that you live consciously. And that you live from the inside out.
Once you have these requirement then you formulate your word. Your word is an act of creation, and you should give it some thought.