A few weeks ago, I introduced the topic of integrity as a differentiating core value within organizations. I encouraged a broader, more impactful definition of integrity. We refer to it as the Three W’s of Integrity. I recently unpacked the first two of the Three W’s, “Honor your Worth” and “Honor your Word.” Today, we will discover the foundation of integrity as we tackle the 3rd of the Three W’s:
Honor Your Wholeness
The term integrity is derived from the word integer – a whole number, a complete entity. Are you whole? Are you one? Do you represent yourself as a complete, singular entity? Or do the circumstances of the moment or the group you’re with dictate who you are and how you show up?
In my book Navigate Chaos, I tell the story of a youth basketball team that I coached. I taught a team of right-handers to shoot left-handed layups. At practice, they all tried their best to shoot with their left hand. However, in pregame warmups, they reverted to old habits. All of them shot with their right hand from the left side.
Why Does This Happen?
Simply put, there was an audience. The boys did not want to look silly in front of family and friends. How often do we do the same at work or in our daily lives?
While the worth, or ethics, component of integrity may be defined by what you do when no one is watching, I contend that the wholeness component is more aptly defined by what you do when everyone is watching. Are you willing to expose the “left hand” in the midst of your family, friends, and colleagues? Are you self-aware? Are you genuine in your relationships? Do you accurately represent yourself to the world? Or do you aim to be something you’re not, deferring to the perceived expectations and affirmation of others?
If you embrace authenticity, you’ll simplify your life. You’ll rid yourself of the exhausting habit of presenting yourself in a different light to different people. And in establishing or restoring your wholeness, you’ll become a leader who’s more likely to honor your word and maintain your worth. You’ll foster an environment that promotes honesty and ethics and demonstrates it whether others are watching or not.
What Can You Do?
In pursuit of wholeness, you must tackle what makes you insecure. What is it that keeps you from living an authentic life? When coaching leaders from the information technology industry, I often refer to cyber security’s three-factor authentication, which is considered the gold standard for information security. Just as three factors of authentication can be applied to protect information, they can also be applied to protect your integrity. I refer to this as “3-Factor Authenticity.”
- What you know: What are your strengths and limitations? What has shaped you into the person you are today? What are your core values? Know the person you are to establish the foundation of true authenticity.
- What you have: What are the blessings in your life? This includes what you own and the relationships you have. Avoid comparison. It’s the enemy of contentment and authenticity. Own and appreciate what you have.
- Who you are: Do you present yourself in a manner that’s consistent with what you know and what you have? Or, do you attempt to present yourself as something or someone you’re not? Be the person you are meant to be in order to live a life of true peace and integrity.
If you seek to be a trusted leader in the organization you serve, you must be authentic. You must be whole. You must be willing to expose the “left-hand” in the midst of your colleagues. Apply 3-Factor Authenticity. It’s through the combined application of these principles that any individual can pursue a life of integrity, personal security, fulfillment, and peace. Know it. Own it. Be it. Seek a better way!
Steve Wiley is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. He is a certified Executive and Leadership Coach with business and engineering management degrees from William and Mary and George Washington University. He founded CEEK with the mission to help organizations redefine and pursue wellness via solutions that enhance teamwork, mitigate anxiety, promote healthy balance, and advance a values-based, leadership culture. Prior to starting CEEK, Mr. Wiley was responsible for delivering government IT services leading an account of approximately 400 employees. He is PMP certified and a graduate of the Industry Advisory Council Partners Program. Mr. Wiley’s recently released book, Navigate Chaos, was a number one best-seller on Amazon.