Mid Course Monthly Evaluation

This past week was challenging in terms of pursuing goals. Although I have successfully kept track of my efforts by logging progress nightly, I’ve recorded a lot of goose eggs. I don’t feel unmotivated, but I feel exactly what recording too many zeros is supposed to accomplished….an overarching feeling that I need to step it up, to act more strategically.

I did not take into account a distraction that will be with me over the next 2-3 months. I’ll be moving into a house, and moves are listed as one of the top stressful life events in a person’s life. Even though I’m spreading it out over two months, it still weighs me down. I’m pretty good at adapting, in fact, adaptability is a strength of mine, but there’s is an inherent part of me that resists change. The introvert who enjoys my status quo, even though I’m all about challenging the status quo.

Cold, wet weather is always a detriment to physical goals that are practiced outdoors. I will always take walking at Fairview Park over a treadmill. Since I’m not a gym member, that’s not even a option. So the goose eggs stack up.

My writing goals sometimes get sidetracked by my fear of revealing vulnerability. I get a feeling that I’m blocked, but I’m really not. I just don’t want to pour out something onto a blank page that might show my true self, knowing it might be revealed to the world. My strategy for that is just to write one sentence….and the rest soon takes care of itself. But that first sentence seems to be huge confrontation with the Resistance, as Steven Pressfield calls it, (or the Lizard Brain, as Seth Godin calls it.)

Another thing I have been trying to work on is my “people skills.” I’m a generally easy going guy, and it usually takes a lot to set me off. I try to be as helpful as possible at work. But my introversion sometimes holds me back. Sometimes I’m quiet when I should speak. Sometimes I play it safe when I should be more assertive. I’m trying to be more aware of these moments, and occasionally push myself into the discomfort zone. Being aware is the easy part. Pushing myself forward is the difficult part. My primary job responsibility at Wal Mart is sales associate. So “sales” is a part of that responsibility, (although since there is “nada” commission, you can hardly call it sales, sometimes it’s more like order taking.) I’m trying to be aware of those few moments when a friendly nudge might push the customer into a purchase. Like most folks, I’m disgusted with the idea of a pushy salesperson desperately trying to close. More than anything, I’m just trying to hone my listening skills. That in itself seems to be the basis for all things involving personal interaction.

I did fair with sticking to my budget, with a few unplanned purchases, and moving and tweaking other line items to compensate. I did focus on the majors, though, and those got squared away immediately.

Well….there it is. My first month mid course corrections. The trick is not to panic and resign oneself to “failure” when you’re off track, because that will happen. Asking yourself if what you’re doing is working and giving an honest answer will help keep you from deluding yourself if you’re making progress. Progress happens, drip by drip by drip, a little at a time. These kind of journeys require a vision for long term perseverance. Without it, you’ll find yourself run aground somewhere between resignation and apathy, which hardly sounds like a desirable destination.

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.