THE BLOG
08/02/2010 05:45 am ET Updated Mar 20, 2015

Could Impeccability Be the Missing Key to Integrity?

Last week, as predicted, asking "Is There Any Integrity Or Honesty Out There?" opened quite the Pandora's box. It was a short post and I noted that "I'm just concerned that upright, honest and integral behavior is destined for the same outcome as buggy whips and teletypes."

All the kerfuffle around Shirley Sherrod got me going. Clearly, the kind of political gamesmanship behind her lamentable situation are hardly new, but it did serve as one of those final "straws" and I decided that it would be interesting to see what our readers had to say.

Well, you had a lot to say!

Some noted that issues of integrity and honesty have been with us as long as people have been alive. Others noted that things seem to be changing, if not accelerating, in terms of integrity challenges. And others remain optimistic.

If you haven't already, may I humbly suggest that your open the link to last week's article and read the comment string. The whole thing! All 252 of them. Of the 100 posts I have put up over the past couple of years, this one really seemed to stimulate a dialogue. Readers posted comments to which others replied not in the usual agree/disagree style, and certainly not in the kind of "you're an idiot" diatribe that sometimes erupts. To me, this time it seems that people embraced the topic and engaged in something more akin to a conversation on the subject.

I am certainly hopeful that we are moving increasingly toward conversation and dialogue. Certainly, we would be better off for it, socially, politically, personally and perhaps even economically.

Here are a couple that you may find interesting:

Thomas Wojick wrote:

"Excellent review of how integrity is not just about the larger issues we confront, but also the day to day and moment to moment opportunities we have to demonstrate our integrity. I overhear adults rant about the lack of honesty and integrity in government and with politicians, yet have no qualms of instructing or coaching their children to not own up to mistakes or "bad calls" if the teacher or umpire didn't catch it.

"Another aspect of integrity is that it is directly related to trust or should I say mistrust. Trust is a cornerstone of relationships and of much of what our institutions need to have in order to be effective. Without trust relationships, banks and governments flounder and fail. What may seem like a small and insignificant issue or moment of integrity may be the moment when trust is withheld or withdrawn. It's time to pay attention and commit to living with more integrity and it starts with being honest with one's self. If you fail "you" and don't live up to your own expectations, you can't expect anyone else to either."

This comment reminded me of a time in grad school when we were studying child development and behavior. The professor told of a field observation where the grad students were observing a group of four to six year old kids on a playground, accompanied by a parent.

Several kids were playing in a sandbox, when one of the little boys picked up a small bucket, filled it with sand, and then immediately dumped it all over a little girl. The little girl began to cry. The boy's mother having observed this behavior grabbed her son by the arm and instructed him to go apologize to the little girl. He did, but not with any sense of caring, consideration or real apology. Just one of those "I'm sorry" statements spit out of his mouth with derision and sharpness.

When he came back, his mother grabbed him again, and got right in his face. Her words this time: "you go back and you apologize as though you meant it."

How's that for a set of instructions for life? Doesn't matter what you really feel, just fake it.

Marcus01 wrote this amazing bit of insight:

"I've always been pretty honest. Honest even when it was inconvenient to be so, even when it got me in trouble. I've left a job where my integrity was being challenged. However there were exceptions: I would tell the little white lies. I could also be manipulative.

"One morning about five years ago I was casting about for an excuse to cancel a commitment that afternoon. My sense of personal responsibility had recently evolved to the point where I was loathe to make excuses, but still, there were exceptions. I put those thoughts aside and picked up a pen and paper to jot some stuff down, when I spontaneously wrote down the first thing that came into my head. I wrote: "I am impeccable. I live my life impeccably." (Could that have come from my subconscious?)

"Suddenly all thoughts of excuses vanished and I looked forward to making my appointment, and more importantly I knew on a very deep level that I could never again make excuses for myself!

"Impeccable is taking integrity to a whole other level. I can't explain the mechanism involved, but when I put those words down on paper it created a powerful experience -- a profound consciousness shift.

"I remember reading decades ago that Carlos Castaneda's mentor Don Juan stressed that a "man of power lives impeccably" -- or something like that. I didn't fully understand it at the time. I think I understand now.

"I'm no shaman, but those words changed my life."

Is this not powerfully insightful? Impeccability! "I live my life impeccably" could be one of the more profound and provocative invitations to self-awareness that I have discovered. Could you imagine a world with greater impeccability? Could it start with something as simple as you, me or the next guy simply affirming "I live my life impeccably?"

What do you think?

I'd love to hear from you. Please do leave a comment here or drop me an email at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.

***

If you want more information on how you can apply this kind of reframing to your life and to your job, about a few simple steps that may wind up transforming your life, please download a free chapter from my book, Workarounds That Work. You'll be glad you did.

You can buy Workarounds That Work here.

Russell Bishop is an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, Calif. You can learn more about my work by visiting my website at www.RussellBishop.com. You can contact me by e-mail at Russell (at) russellbishop.com.