Each month (when I am not traveling for work) I attend a great networking event here in Seattle called Kiros, yesterday there was a striking talk on “Crossing the line” by Mark Sabo. This was Mark’s personal story of his failure in business regarding integrity and the consequences that followed. Personally I was struck by what a small decision by Mark led to such very serious consequences. The point that hit home for me (again) was this idea of identity. Mark, like myself, considered himself a man of integrity and yet he was able to justify his later regretable actions. As many say, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Seeing yourself as a person of integrity is not enough, often times that view leads to the least common denominator and efforts to do the bare minimum. What is needed, what I need is something greater than myself to guide my actions daily.
In The Corporate Mystic the author states, “The first question to ask is whether you are out of integrity with yourself. Are you genuinely at ease with the path you are on?” Many successful people are working to heal a wound from their family, perhaps earn recognition from a loved one that never expressed it. In my case I worked (and often work) to overcome shame that has been present in my life and in my family story for generations. This is a dry well to pull from, and only when you are able to step back to you realize that. “Many of us learn very early to tune out inner signals, and the long-run costs of this are enormous…Happiness flows from a clear spring: You need to have a totally honest relationship with yourself.” This is a key reason I believe that how people answer who they have been created to be is key to all of life: personal, spiritual, professional, and family.
A friend shared on facebook today the article, Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity is Forever by Amy Rees Anderson, a very good article that inspired me. The last few lines of the article are very powerful, “If you want to build a reputation as a person of integrity then surround yourself with people of integrity. There is a plaque on the wall of my office which reads: “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” It serves as a daily reminder that success will indeed come and go, but integrity is forever.” I couple that with a friend who’s dad gave him the advice in college, “Know who you are before you go into the party.” Integrity is not something that is learned on the fly, life is too hard and our minds are too easily tricked. It is essential for all people (including business people) to take time to do the tough personal and spiritual work to find the source of integrity, and the reward is well worth it. As Amy Rees Anderson states success will come and go, your character is what you are stuck with.
“I contend that dishonesty will create a failure force that often manifests itself in other ways-ways not apparent to the outside observer.” -Joseph Sugarman