Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Post #63: Integrity and "The Hunger Games"

Last night, I had the opportunity to see The Hunger Games. Wow...intense. I'd already been thinking about this week's blog topic, "Integrity," and to me this movie was, above all, a lesson in integrity.

We've been looking at the importance of focus in our lives, and in that regard I wanted to introduce the idea of integrity to self. I'm sure at some some point or other you've considered the role integrity plays in your life. But what is this, really?

For me, integrity has always been more of a feeling than anything else. When I meet someone new or observe my own thoughts or behavior, there's always the subtle question,  "What level of integrity is operating here?" and, "Do I trust this?"

If you break it down, integrity can be said to include the following:
1.   Possessing and steadfastly adhering to high moral principles (or professional standards)
2.   Being whole, undivided
3.   Being sound or uncompromised

Like you, perhaps, I have always suffered when I didn't live up to my own standards, but this has mostly been true in my relationship with the outside world. Of course, many of us have been working on self esteem issues forever and learning how to love and respect ourselves, but let me ask you this:  Do you apply the same standards to your relationship with self as you do with others? (Or, conversely, do you afford others the same respect you give yourself?) Do you show up on time when you have an important meeting, but flake out on your personal goals just because no one out there is holding you accountable? Ouch, I can relate to that.

Recently I heard a talk by Marcia Wieder, founder of Dream University. She spoke about why our goals fail, and brought up the topic of integrity to self. I'd never really thought of it before, but when you set a personal goal, like completing a project by a particular date, it should be no different than if your boss gives you a deadline to meet. You take your job seriously and you care what your boss thinks of you, so you make sure it happens, right? You might feel that you need your job and don't want to lose it, but there's more to it than that. You have integrity---you agreed to perform a particular function, and you take that agreement seriously. The same is true for us parents. We make sacrifices so our children will get what they need, and when we fall short of our own standards, we feel terrible.

So, why is it easy for many of us to set a personal goal and then disregard it or even forget that we set it? It's because we lack some level of integrity with ourselves. I admit that I am guilty of this. And what happens when we repeatedly fail to do what we say we'll do? We lose faith in ourselves.

Marcia's message is that we can reprogram our minds to gain back the integrity we've lost. We do this by setting small weekly objectives and making sure we fulfill them. She advocates dreaming really BIG, but taking it a step at a time and having faith in the universal unknown (miracles).

How is your integrity to self? To your loved ones? To your work?  To your community? To those you'll never meet? Ideally, and by definition, there's no difference. Integrity means being true to yourself and others, through and through. Easy? No way. Worth the effort? Absolutely! 

This week, I vow to only make promises to myself that I intend to keep (and then do whatever is necessary to make them happen). What about you?

You might enjoy setting aside time to watch one of the great "hero's journey" movies out there. A few of my favorites are Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Avatar, and The Hunger Games. These are more than stories. They are extreme portrayals of the integrity issues that we face every day of our lives.

Enjoy, and have a bold week!