I want to talk about integrity.
For a long time, I didn’t really know what integrity was. I thought it was following the rules. Being a good person. Never upsetting anybody. Trying to figure out the “right” thing to do—which was usually informed by everyone’s opinions but my own.
For the past four months or so, I’ve been having the same conversation again and again. With clients, colleagues, friends, my therapist.
What does integrity mean? What does it mean to be a person of integrity? How can I find integrity in this moment?
They’re not easy questions to answer—ever, but especially not in this moment. As we’re all spending more time in reflection, they feel like they’ve taken on just a little more weight.
Because the truth is—how do we know? How do we know if we’re in integrity or not?
At the beginning of this year, someone called me “out of integrity.” So I did what I do. I reflected on it. I thought about it. I processed with my therapist, friends, any number of healers.
I wanted to know if and where my blind spots were here, and how to actually evaluate when I’m in or not in integrity.
I’ll never forget what my friend and healer Dana Machacek said. She told me that my subconscious was confused about what it looks and feels like to be in integrity because it’s not an intellectual evaluation. It’s emotional.
So I had to be able to explain to a five-year-old what I’d feel and see if I were in integrity.
It’d feel like a solid, relaxed belly. Like conviction, even when I’m scared. Like people I admire looking at me with soft, deep eyes. Like people I respect telling me that they respect me—or, even better, taking actions that show me they respect me.
It’d look like a life that’d feel like me. Where my greatest values would be shared—not just with myself, but with everyone I meet.
Because that’s what integrity means, after all. It means integrated. It means that our values are integrated into our lives.
Not as lofty ideals. But as the actual foundations of our decisions. Even—and maybe especially—when it’s really hard.
And, during this quarantine, it’s been really hard.
If I boiled my work down to just a few words, I could say that I’m interested in helping people to map their sensitivities and values and then integrate them into every aspect of their life.
And the truth is we don’t all have the same values. We couldn’t possibly.
If we’re out there in the world, we’re inevitably bumping up against someone else’s values. And that’s okay. Actually, that’s what makes this world so great. We all have our own gifts and perspectives.
But it doesn’t quite make sense to judge ourselves against the rules of someone whose values we don’t align with. Their values don’t apply to us.
I want the respect of people whose values align with mine. I want to feel solid and firm around the things that matter to me. I want every aspect of my life to feel like me—like I’m truly integrated.
If I didn’t know those values, those sensitivities, with crystal clarity, I’m not sure where I’d be this quarantine. Because hard moments have come up. Really hard moments. And I questioned myself a lot. And did things that seemed illogical.
But I know I’m out of integrity if I don’t Align with myself every day. So, rain or shine, I got up at 5:30am and did my morning routine, even when it’s been so hard.
And I know I’m out of integrity if I don’t likewise Align all of my work with where I’m emotionally at, so I rebuilt courses and webinars, stopped writing, and took time to go inward.
And I know I’m out of integrity if I’m not having deep, Vulnerable conversations that matter. So I spent nearly every day having 3-hour conversations with dozens of people who are having very different experiences right now, but whose values are similar to mine.
And I’ve been shocked at the miracles that have come from that space. Large and small. Surprise gifts I’ve received in the mail. Or heart-warming phone calls. Or just the unshakeable feeling that I’m showing up the best way I know how and making a difference.
Integrity doesn’t mean perfection. There’s no such thing. But it means that in the moving target of life, we’re integrated in this moment. And that might change. Life is always changing. But, for now, our values are integrated.
And, when we’re aware of new blind spots or new challenges, we do the work to integrate our values there, too. Even when it’s really, really hard.
In moments of hardship, when it feels like the whole world is turned upside down, I can’t imagine a better anchoring tool than knowing ourselves. Knowing what actually matters to us. What kind of world we want to see out there. And how our gifts can contribute to it.
I want every person in the world to know their values with unshakeable certainty. And to know exactly how to integrate them into the world. To be a person of integrity. So we all feel and share our gifts.
We can’t always control our circumstances. We can’t always be happy in every moment. Or successful. Or avoid conflict.
But we can be in integrity. We can choose the thing that’s most right for us. The thing we honestly believe will best contribute to the world.
To choose integrity is always to choose love. Love as we know it and define it.
After all, that’s all values are. The priorities, the energies, that bring us closest and fastest to love.
And, in this moment, maybe more than ever, we need a hell of a lot more love in the world. We need to know how we can show up to make this world the place we all know it can be.
What are your values? What decisions do you seem to make time and time again? Are they in alignment with who you are on a deep level? Does your life feel aligned with who you want to be?
At the end of the day, all we can ever do is know our unique gifts and purpose, and then offer them to both ourselves and others.
It might not be glamour. It might not be glory. But it will always be purpose.