The other day I posted a question asking people if they could define integrity in one sentence. I received in a lot of great responses and answers. For the most part everyone who responded had pretty much the same response. Personally the best definition I’ve ever heard for integrity is doing the right thing whether you know someone is watching or not. Or judge a man by not what he has to do, but by what he does when he doesn’t have to. A simple example of this is putting the shopping cart in the cart corral after using it at the store.
Now with that said and hopefully we have the wheels turning as to what integrity is, I want to purpose another question. How does that definition relate to the relationship you have with yourself? The most important relationship we have in our lives is the relationship we have with ourselves. If we don’t have a solid internal relationship all the other relationships in our lives tend to suffer. Integrity with ourselves is a vital component to living the lives we set out to live. One way that might help better explain this is think of your relationship with yourself as if it was literally another person. Now does this person embody the definition in which you thought of when it comes to integrity?
As we get into the holiday season, this becomes even more important. The industry in which I love and earn my living in (health and fitness) loves this time of year. During this time of year millions of people go and purchase exercise equipment they’ll never use and join gyms they’ll never step into in hopes to finally make the changes they’ve tried to do just like in years past. Personally I’m not a fan of this time of year. Not because I’m a “Scrooge” and hate the holidays. It’s because it truly makes me sad that so many people set out to “change their lives” on January 1st, but come January 15th 95% of those people have already given up on goals in which they were so passionate about accomplishing no more than 2 weeks prior. I bring this up because to me it’s not a matter of people quitting. To me it’s a matter of a lack of integrity in the relationships we have with ourselves. Every goal small or large is going to have its fair share of challenges or obstacles, and no matter the goal it’s probably going to be harder and take longer than originally thought. It is during these times that our integrity and relationships we have with ourselves will shine through. For example if your goal is to lose 10 pounds this year, what is that going to take? Most likely that means you’re going to have to make some nutritional adjustments, perhaps start exercising if you haven’t already, and probably make some overall lifestyle changes. This may sound all good and not that difficult, but what are you going to do once you’re met with obstacles along the way? The integrity we have with ourselves is what is going to help carry us through any tuff times. The integrity we build with ourselves helps form the language that we tell ourselves during these times. If I know I’m the type of person who at every turn gives into my friends when they want to go out, or gives into eating or drinking the things that are going to sabotage my diet, I have a lacking relationship with integrity because I know I truly can’t be trusted. However, if I build integrity with myself along the way by making the choices to hold myself accountable to the things in which I set out to accomplish I will help solidify this relationship. I know this sounds very simple, but this can also be very hard. Especially if I’m more like the person I first mentioned.
Building integrity with yourself is no different than building integrity with others. Start small and start simple. When we first meet someone we don’t normally start by taking on a huge task together. We tend to normally start with conversations which lead to acts and decisions that display our judgements and our ability to be accountable. For some of us the relationship we have with our self might be so bad that we need to basically start from starch and start with a simple conversation. These conversations will lead to the acts that will show whether we are willing to do the right thing or hold yourselves accountable whether someone is watching or not. This can be as simple as putting the shopping cart back in the cart corral after using it. After doing this simple task several times I will start to identify myself as the type of person who puts their cart back in the cart corral. Or back to the person who wants to lose 10 pounds. I may need to start walking around my block every day, NO MATTER WHAT. At first it might be hard, I might have internal dialogue saying to do it later, or I may have friends calling me to go out. However if I hold myself accountable and go for that walk no matter what, I now build and strengthen my integrity relationship with myself and now start to describe myself as a person who goes on a walk around my block every day NO MATTER WHAT. There’s nothing really sexy about this approach, it’s literally doing what you said you’re going to do and sticking to it.
Remember the most important relationship we have is the relationship we have with ourselves. So if you get one thing out of this article, please let it be this question. What is your relationship with integrity and what are some simple or small things you can do every day to strengthen that relationship?