Over 75% of falls take place on the way down from the mountain. It’s easy to see why. Once you reach the summit or peak, you are more tired and prone to carelessness. Your mind wanders to the next big task or is caught celebrating the top rather than keeping attention on the trail. The path to mastery though is in the commitment to staying the full course– up and down the mountain.
I wish I could say that this is something I always do, but it’s not. Just this weekend, I biked to the grocery store ready to pick up a few important supplies for the week. I felt good about biking and patted myself on the back for bringing a trailer to carry the groceries. Unfortunately, I forgot my mask. Rather than ride back home, I took my chances and entered the store anyway. This isn’t against the law, I told myself. However, it is certainly way against my beliefs and better judgment. It’s also against my conviction to keep me and my family safe. But I did it anyway! I fell off the path of integrity.
Living and working with others is all about reciprocity. Most simply, we make commitments to give something in exchange for another person giving us something in return. Some examples of items to exchange are a task, good, service, or favor. When we give our commitment to this exchange, we promise to carry through on one of these items. It’s like our own personal currency. When we fail to follow-through on the exchange, the value of our currency drops. The more we fulfill on our exchanges, the higher our currency will be. Knowing you can trust this exchange increases the integrity of our relationship.
Integrity is the foundation of all interpersonal, group, and organizational life; the connective tissue that holds it together. The more solid the foundation, the more weight can be placed on it. The reliability stays intact. When we don’t follow through the foundation degrades.
Practice: Power Spiral
Here are a few ways to keep the foundation of integrity strong.
- Accountability buddy. Find someone to help keep you true to your commitment. Choose a friend, colleague, or family member you trust. Share with them your commitment and set a date to check back with them to make sure you’ve completed or maintained it.
- Displays. Find a heads up way to keep your commitment in front of you. Some examples include a weekly reminder list on our desk, a pop-up computer reminder on the calendar, or even on card slipped behind your bathroom mirror.
- Fess up. Just like I did in this blog, if you fall off your commitment, share it with someone else. Take time to clean up the impact, forgive yourself, and recommit to future integrity. This isn’t about self-flagellation, think of it as repair work.
- Power Spiral. Completing or fulfilling a commitment gives a boost of power. You can feel it in your body. Make it a practice to tune into this feeling of power rising as you maintain or achieve your most important commitments. Notice also the reduction in power if you fall off. In this way, you can train the body to reinforce integrity. It builds an upward power spiral.