Integrity

Integrity is a quality that is hard to describe at times, but we recognize it when we see it. Integrity is a prized possession that if lost, is exceptionally difficult to regain. The word integrity and the word integer are related. An integer is a whole number. 1, 2, 8, 43, 659, but not 6 1/2 or 8.3459. There is no partiality in an integer. It is whole, complete. There is no duplicity in it.

Also related is the word integral. Something that is integral is necessary to make a whole complete. If there is something deficient in a person’s character, then that person lacks integrity. For example, if a person is deceptive and dishonest, then that person lacks integrity. Truth and honesty are integral to a person’s integrity. It would not be whole, or complete, without them.

Integrity itself is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principals; moral uprightness. It’s about who you are when no one is looking or listening. These characteristics are not necessarily native to the human condition. They are greatly admired, and obviously should be pursued, but all things being equal, if pushed to extremes, the natural man will break social mores to survive, if not to receive a moment of pleasure. There are exceptions, but the exceptions are few.

However I am not just speaking of the natural man. I also speak of those who are touched by the supernatural. No, I am not speaking of superheroes, or aliens, or psychics, etc. I’m speaking of above the realm of nature. When a person chooses to live his or her life in such a way that they rely on resources beyond their physical selves, they can tap into what I call A Supernatural Force. This requires an entire blog post to explain. But in a recent post I’ve written about the power that comes from spiritual transformation. These two powers are one and the same. When we choose to rest in the grace of God, and align our thinking and our emotions to His will, then our willful actions have the potential to reflect integrity.

Acting with integrity is not necessarily easy. Sometimes it is not cost effective. A business acts with integrity when they declare a recall in order to prevent injury and even save lives. Integrity is usually in the details. A person doing their taxes acts with integrity when they choose to not cheat even in the small details. But there is a reward to integrity – it builds your trustworthiness. And trust is a form of social capital that allows you to influence others. Trust, respect, and love are three of the characteristics needed to “change” someone.

Integrity is built one choice at a time. And one test at a time. And one temptation at a time. And one confrontation at a time. We don’t come out of the womb with integrity. Innocence, yes. But not integrity. It is a characteristic that is nurtured in our youth by responsible parents, family members, teachers, and other citizens. It is then maintained by responsible decision making. It is sharpened by the accountability of others in the trenches of day to day corroboration. And it is the foundation of a society that endeavors to progress forward. Your completeness and wholeness as a human being is integral to the world. Without it, we all suffer.

A Big Enough Why

I’ve come up with four questions I ask when trying to clarify my goals.

1.) What is it that you want?
2.) Why do you want it?
3.) How bad do you want it?
4.) What are you willing to give for it?

I want to focus on the second question. “Why do you want it?”
Why. The question of motive and motivation. Everything you do has a Why behind it. Some of the times it’s easy to determine the why. Sometimes you need a therapist. Two days ago I stated in a blog post that folks who I once thought as lazy and/or felt a sense of entitlement I now think, more than likely, don’t have a big enough Why in their lives. It’s not a question that anyone can answer except the one asking themselves. Sometimes when you ask this question of yourself, you’re tempted to lie or give a canned, presumptions answer. That would be doing yourself a disservice.

Sometimes crazy impassioned people do more harm than good, but passion is important. If your Why doesn’t enflame a passion, then you might need another goal. Sometimes folks are afraid to ask Why, because they know without a doubt they can’t come up with a good enough reason for pursuing the said goal.

“I want a Ferrari.” Why? “Because it will make me look important.”

Thats so empowering. Not really, if you couldn’t discern my sarcasm. (If you really want a Ferrari, go ahead. I’m not anti Ferrari. Cars just aren’t my thing.)

Sometimes you know you want to have, or be, or do something, it’s just hard to come up with the why. It’s intangible or words escape trying to define it. I think that’s okay. It might very well be a work in progress thing, something that evolves over time. You kinda know the what and you kinda know the why. You probably ought to test the waters some. Do some research. Sit on the idea a while. Pray about it. Meditate on it, contemplate on it. I’ve been there, and maybe I’m still there. I’m closer than ever to knowing.

Sometimes you have the why, but something else is out of whack. You might not have the character needed to do whatever it takes. Character really does count. Self discipline, persistence, and perseverance are character traits that are necessary to accomplish most worthwhile pursuits. You might need a season or three to work on these issues and others. How you deal with people matters. If you’re lacking people skills, good luck trying to accomplish your goals. Not gonna happen.

I’ve been getting up at 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning at least four days of the week. Why? Because I want some extra time in the morning to get focused on my day. I read. I pray. I meditate. I read God’s word. I read some more. And I think. Why do I do this? I need to prime the pump. And it makes a huge difference. I try to focus on the positive, and contribute positively when I can. I know the first half of my days at work have been smoother since I’ve been doing this. (I’ll be honest, the second half of the days are kinda rough, I run out of steam. I’m working on that.) The character trait of self discipline was something sorely lacking in my life for many years, but it’s something I’ve been working on for many, many months now. As a result, I’m better defining my Why behind my goals, and they’re being pursued consistently.

So, go dream up a What. Then find your Why.

Why, you ask?

Why not….it’s worth a shot.