I had an interesting call from a dear friend and Landmark graduate today. Besides wanting to catch up, my friend called to restore her integrity with me. I admire her very much for doing so.
She made a promise to me that she didn’t keep, and she acknowledged that fact, apologized and shared with me what she will do differently the next time.
Integrity restored. Our relationship is rock solid and no bad feelings.
Most of us make excuses and fabricate stories to justify not fulfilling a promise. Our society is acceptant of ‘white lies’, and we learn to accept our own enhanced stories as truth. Each time we weave an embellished story, we know it is not truth.
We feel a little smaller inside as we do it.
An example might be that I’ve promised to help a friend who is moving. The night before the move, I am invited to hang out with some friends. I know I have to get up early, and that I’ve promised to help with a move, but I choose to go out anyway.
Somehow the night extends to 2am, without even realizing it. A little too much food and drink results in a rough wake up and a decision to stay in bed longer. I shut the alarm off and roll over for just a few more zzzz’s. I feel absolutely miserable when I get up and hope that coffee will help. I am not in the mood or in much shape for helping with a move, but I promised. So I grudgingly drag myself along.
As I drive to my friend’s place, I grumble that she is lucky I am helping at all. Inside I cringe a bit, as I know this is a really good friend, and I shouldn’t be so annoyed. She’s always been there to help me out.
Instead of arriving at 9am for the start of the move, I manage to show up at 10 or 10:30am and the falsehoods begin. I mention that I must be coming down with something - as I don’t feel very well, and the traffic was awful, and that I forgot to set the alarm and the dogs were being a pain, or the neighbors noise kept me up all night or some other excuses about why I had to show up late.
Even if I do mention that I had a rough night and was out late, I make some excuse about how tough it is to get friends together, and that I couldn’t help it that this was the one night we could all hang out, so I had to go.
We tend to build stories that make our mishaps seem less like our own fault. It’s everyone’s and everything’s fault other than mine.
That is the opposite of integrity, and pretty much all of us have learned this way of dealing with each other - in business, in our families, in our friendships -
At Landmark, we discussed integrity as ‘doing what we say we will do’. Integrity is not viewed through a moral lens, but rather through the lens of workability.
Rather than judging what I could have done or should have done from a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ perspective, looking at the effect of my lack of integrity is helpful.
My moving friend was likely anxious about my not showing up and even perhaps worried about me. She also probably was panicky about not having enough people to help with her move.
Whereas, she might have asked more, or other people to help with the move, if she had known that I was not going to honor my word by reliably showing up on time and in good physical condition to actually be helpful. My actions led to unworkability.
There were a number of possible places to say ‘no’ along the way, and sometimes saying ‘no’ is the answer to act with integrity. Since I didn’t choose to say ‘no’, and I didn’t honor my word, I was out of integrity.
I could have restored integrity by acknowledging my late night party choice and choice of staying in bed longer, apologizing for not honoring my promise, and then either offering to call another healthy friend to help or providing another alternative solution to help the situation.
Something to consider for the future - might saying ‘no’ sometimes, be your choice for integrity?
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