I was speaking to my mechanic the other day and he said…
“It’s got no integrity.”
We had my car up over the pits. I’d been on a few coastal holidays (and a bit of beach bashing!), and he was talking about the importance of rinsing the salt water out from under your car.“It’s got no integrity.”
We had my car up over the pits. I’d been on a few coastal holidays (and a bit of beach bashing!), and he was talking about the importance of rinsing the salt water out from under your car.
“If the salt stays there too long, then it starts to rust. And once the rust takes hold, she’s a goner. The whole chassis’ got no integrity.”
‘What a disaster,’ I thought. Imagine if your chassis had no integrity.
Your chassis would be lying to you. It’d be telling you one thing and doing another. It would tell you it’d be coming home straight from work, and then staying out to all hours of the morning.
And then there was that time that it stole a packet of biscuits from your Aunty’s place.
And then it disappears for weeks on end and the only time you ever hear from it is when it needs to borrow money.
“Sounds like a disaster,” I said.
It got me thinking about where the term ‘integrity’ came from. When you’re talking about a car chassis, structural integrity means a completeness or a wholeness, and the dependability that comes with that.
Is that what we mean when we talk about ‘personal integrity’?
We normally take it to mean honesty, respect – a commitment to your values. But I think when you pull it apart it also means a dependability that comes from being whole.
What I take it to mean is that your outer-world and your inner worlds are integrated together. There’s no duplicity.
What you think is no different from what you say. Your internal values are in alignment with your outer actions.
The way you want to be in the world, is no different from how you actually are in the world.
The outer and inner worlds are integrated together. You make up a seamless whole.
And from that, honesty, respect and reliability naturally emerge.
This is why integrity is such a difficult thing to achieve – and why it is such a rare and valued quality in the world.
Keeping your inner and outer worlds in alignment takes strength and discipline.
I was out the other day watching a little boy try and convince his mother to buy him an icecream.
He had an argument for everything. It will rot your teeth? – it’s okay because he brushes his teeth extra well. There’s too much sugar? – it’s ok because he ran extra fast in P.E today. It’s too expensive? – they’re not actually that expensive, and besides I just saw you get a $20 note in change from Woolworths.
It was quite amazing to watch. His mind had locked on to what he wanted. From that point on, all of his thought structures pivoted around that goal. His whole world view shifted to whatever was needed to get an icecream.
And it seemed that he really believed it. He wasn’t just telling stories. In his mind, he was right. Icecreams were cheap and good for you.
(I wonder what would have happened if his mother had said, “you can’t have icecream because gravity.” It would have been fun to watch the mental gymnastics that would have come from that!)
This is obviously an extreme example, but I think a degree of self-deception is part of the human condition.
Maybe it’s a necessary survival tool.
“I want to get that fruit, but that sleeping lion looks dangerous.”
“The Lion’s dead. Don’t worry about it.”
And maybe it’s another tool that was never meant to be applied in the complex modern world and to moral issues of right and wrong.
“I’m trying to lose weight. Maybe I shouldn’t have sweets…”
“Tim-tams aren’t that fattening. Don’t worry about it.”
“I’ve had a few drinks, maybe I shouldn’t drive…”
“Nah, I’m a better driver when I’m drunk.”
“Maybe taking $50 out of this old woman’s purse is wrong.”
“Nah, I’m sure if I asked she’d give it to me. Besides, she doesn’t need all those meds when I don’t even have Nickleback’s new album.”
We can be masters of self-deception.
And so the key to integrity I reckon is honesty. Not just with others, but with ourselves. That if we say we value something – like doing the right thing – we can catch ourselves from taking an easy way out if the opportunity presents itself.
Even if it’s hard, or if it means we might not get what we want, we stay true to our values. And when we try and deceive ourselves, we get that tricksy mind back on a short leash.
And we follow through. When we make a plan – like getting our finances in order, or getting x number of properties this year, or just committing to spending 3 hours a week researching property – we do it.
I know far too many “wanna-be” investors who talk a good game but have no integrity, no follow-through. They tell me they’re going to be a property millionaire in a couple of years and then when I reconnect, they tell me they’re trading futures on the stock market.
No matter what happens or how hard it gets, we honour the promise we have made to ourselves.
There’s a lot of power in this. Sure integrity makes you a more likeable person. If you’re a man of your word, you’ll get a lot of respect for that. If you’re a woman who always comes good on her promises, you’ll have a lot of friends.
People admire people who are strong in their values.
But this isn’t the real booty hidden in the treasure-chest of integrity.
Once we develop the strength to hold ourselves in our integrity, we move very easily in the world – like a stone falling through water.
We know what the right thing to do is, and we just do it. We act with clarity and confidence. And we don’t get pulled from our path and what we want to achieve by a tricksy mind looking for easy way outs.
At its heart is a choice about the person we are in the world.
The world is awash with these buggers.
It seems today that it’s OK to ruin your integrity with an excuse… And most of them are probably made up, not true. Just saving face.
Personally, I hate excuses. If you’re making lots of them, you’ve got no integrity.
Wouldn’t it be easier just to do what you said you were going to do?
Sure, things come up. I don’t want to be a complete asshole about this, but when you can’t stick to your integrity and there’s a good reason… it is just that. A reason, not an excuse.
…most people don’t know the difference between the two.
So, catch yourself making excuses and then ask yourself, “Am I out of integrity?”
If so… Stop. Think.
This will go a long way to helping you live a happier and fulfilled life with or without money… Preferably with.
What about you? Are you finding yourself going in and out of integrity, not thinking it’s a big deal at all?
Do you even share my weird perspective on integrity? Or do you have a different slant on it?