Feeling Diminished in Your Integrity? 5 Ways to Help You Hold On




“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Funny how this pussy willow will never be anything other than what it is meant to be. It’s integrity is in tact and therefore we can count on it to be just as it promised. I like that. Where is your integrity?

What happens when someone you thought was a person of integrity turns out to be someone you instantly learn you cannot trust has no ethical values and doesn’t honor truth?

That is what happened to me recently and it left me with an abandoned, hollow feeling in my gut and in my consciousness. Does this mean that I should put up defenses to everyone in my life? No. It just means that this person I trusted I can no longer trust. Should I stop trusting everyone? No. Each of deserves a chance to start with an “A” and it is up to us to lose that rating.

As a life coach I ask myself how I can affect a moral, ethical mindset if I want to keep this friendship, relationship, workmanship. The quick answer is I can’t. The longer and more introspective answer is to live with integrity myself, always, and be the example. In coaching we call this “walking the walk”.

What is integrity?

Integrity: Adherence to moral and ethical principles; honesty; the state of being whole, undiminished; honorable.

Honor: fairness, distinction, respect, esteem from others and for others.

Grit: firmness of character, pluck, spirit.

“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I love that the word grit lives inside of the word integrity. Grit is hard and specific and energetic and purposeful.  Grit demands hard work and mindfulness. There are no fuzzy lines when grit takes hold of your spirit and actions. If you are by nature a moral, ethical, open-hearted person then integrity and grit are part of your core values. And so is honesty. I don’t think integrity can exist without honesty.

Do you know when you lie or are being dishonest?

Last week there was a story on http://www.today.com/health/woman-journey-quit-lying-1D80070855 about Diane Kaplan, a reporter who challenged herself to tell the truth in every kind of conversation every day. It has now been 2 years and she is still telling the truth.

It wasn’t an intentional decision. I’ve always been a literal person, often to a fault; if I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it, even if it no longer serves my interests. The reality of doing this (experiment) is that it changes you internally as well. It’s tough to put into words except to say that you feel more pure. You start to like yourself more. You are effectively telling yourself that your actions are motivated by good values.” 

Embellishing and “white” lies are 2 forms of lying and dishonesty and both of those words, when played out mean that you are not living with integrity. I used to embellish when I would re-tell a story simply because by doing so it added “meat” to the story and kept people riveted to what I was saying but I must admit that it didn’t feel very good. I’ve practiced at being more aware of when I feel the need to embellish and for years now I simply tell a story as is, no fancy stuff. Admittedly the story lacks something when told flat out unless something absolutely shocking happened but it’s okay because at least I have lived through something and now have a story to tell.

“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use your power of your word in the direction of truth and love.” Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

On the website, http://www.theartofmanliness.com, writers Brett and Kate McKay discuss, in their 4 part series, what it takes to live a life of integrity:

“When a great man falls from grace, we often wonder how he could have ever messed up so royally. The truth is that he didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit an egregious blunder. It started with a little fudging here, a tiny bit of lying there; from there he just kept on sliding down the slippery slope of compromise. Don’t compromise on the little things, and you won’t on the bigger ones.”

So, what are some examples of situations where you find you are feeling diminished or a drain on your integrity? Brett and Kate say:

“Every day we are faced with little decisions that reflect on our integrity.What’s okay to call a business expense or put on the company charge card? Is it really so bad to stretch the truth a little on your resume in order to land your dream job? Is it wrong to do a little casual flirting when your girlfriend isn’t around? If you’ve missed a lot of class, can you tell your professor a family member died? Is it bad to call in sick to work (or to the social/family function you’re dreading) when you’re hung over? Is it okay to pirate movies or use ad block when surfing the web?”

While writing this short post I thought about how I don’t live with the integrity I want to live with. I find that I behave with integrity in most of my life but when it comes to standing up and speaking for myself I am lacking. I allow other people to speak for me in some very important situations. Because of this I find that my goals truly are hard to reach. Just as a side note, yes, I have called in sick to work even though I wasn’t sick. I think the mindset that gets us off the hook for that phone call is called “taking a mental health day.” How we justify our lack of personal integrity is also something to be aware of.

In the face of all of this information now weighing heavily on your conscience (sorry, but I had to write this article), what are some things you can do to start to live a life of integrity?

  1. Along the lines of a pro/con list or a moral code of ethics, create an integrity list or integrity code. Things you will absolutely not do and absolutely will do that honors yourself, others and your ethical and moral veracity. Display this list like you would the Ten Commandments, in a place that you will see it every day.
  2. Where do your personal values live? Finding out your values will act as a guide in helping you stay the course of a life of integrity, honesty, and authenticity.
  3. Get down and dirty. If ever you could practice honesty this is the place, right here, right this minute. Be as honest with yourself as you can be and highlight the areas in your life where you are not living with integrity. Everything about your life and your values starts within you so get to your truth and start to become who you want to see yourself to be.
  4. As the old adage goes, “Tell the truth so that you don’t have to remember what you said.”
  5. Wear your integrity badge of honor for all to see. Just like tying a piece of string to your finger to remind you of something you shouldn’t forget, wear something every day that reminds you of your integrity code.

Is there hope for us mere mortals? There is no such thing as perfect. The best we can hope for is perfectly imperfect with a side of trying like hell. So if you are feeling as if integrity is just too hard to handle here is what Brett and Kate advise:

“Obviously, not everyone who makes one bad choice ends up morally depraved and utterly crooked. Many of us are able to make a single mistake, or even several, but then get back on track again. This is because various conditions not only make it more or less likely that we’ll make that first dishonest decision, but also increase or decrease our chances of turning ourselves around once we start down an unethical road.”

My interpretation of this last statement: Practice makes almost perfect.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Call To Action: Be honest now…..

How do you tend to embellish when you tell a story? Where is the trigger point?

What does it mean to you to have integrity?

Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Who do you want to see?

In what ways are you a 24/7 honest person? Where else can you improve?

How are you someone others can count on without question or hesitation?

What other ways can you live a life filled with integrity? Please feel free to add to my list; oh and do let me know how you are doing. We can all learn from each other’s successes.


If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program.  Not ready yet? Please visit my website at www.journeyoncoaching.com. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

4 Home Grown Humility Lessons

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” –C.S. Lewis

Humility has been playing a major role in my life this year. Humility is lowly and meek on the outside but courteous and respectful throughout. Humility puts others first.

Maybe I’m more aware of courtesy and respect or the lack thereof than ever before because I’m getting older or maybe it is just a bi-product of the way our society seems to be so self-centered. Whatever the reason I find myself so much more open to learning from others no matter where I am or with whom. Every new learning opportunity and every word I take in I am more and more aware of this feeling of humility and of paying homage and of being grateful.

I recently joined my local Chamber of Commerce and as a result of attending networking events through the Chamber I have been meeting a lot of new people this year. I have found myself feeling humbled by a few people I have met. Their natural way of speaking set the interaction between us on a different level and I was aware of how I have never experienced that before and I found my mind opening up in ways I didn’t know were possible.  I want to hear everything they have to say, I want to ask questions I’ve never asked before, and I want to understand things I have never had a need to understand before. It feels right to feel humble. It feels right to honor the people that make me take notice. It sets them apart from other people I have met. Their uniqueness is so evident that I have to pay attention with awe and humility to all that I do not know. The conversation is richer and has more colors to it.

I’m sure there were humbling moments that have occurred in my life but I don’t think I was aware of the blessing of feeling humbled. I don’t think I ever made that connection until now. For me the blessing of humility is in the ways in which I can bring a smile to someone’s face or help through my coaching. It’s a blessing to be of service to others. The late, great psychologist Christopher Peterson said, “Other people matter.” The end.

If you ever want to feel instant connection to humility watch a child share a toy with another child knowing that no one asked the first child to share that toy. The innocence, the love, the honesty in that moment of sharing could very possibly bring a tear to your eye. Humility is in deeds and silence.

Today I tried to be very aware of my sense of humility. I have been working part time at a local public library for a little over 6 months now and every week I work with young children in a story time program that the library offers. I only see the children the one time per week so it has taken a while for them to feel comfortable and safe with me. Today one of the children told me he loves me as he waved good-bye, “I love you Miss Lisa” and another child said that I was a great reader of stories. Keep in mind that these children are 6 and 3 respectively. I was so thankful and speechless at the same time. Oh yea, a tear fell.

I don’t run story time for accolades. I do it because it is so fun working with the little ones. Every week I am nervous as a butterfly wing hoping I don’t mess up the words I am reading or nervous that the kids will like the craft we are doing that day. Just to let you in on a little secret, I do mess up the words I read sometimes and the kids are just fine about it. That is humbling. I am always so surprised to come to the end of the story time sessions and feel filled to the brim with happiness for the fun they all had. A smile truly is worth a thousand words.

This has been a year of changes for me mostly by way of perspective. My mini-series on change started out wishing you all a happy YOU year  By the way, if you would like to see those posts please visit my website, www.journeyoncoaching.com or email a request to me and I will send the posts to you.

I have, for some reason, been witness to quite a few incidences lately where I have felt humbled by what I have seen. Let me just say right now that I am beyond grateful for not only the experiences but for the blessing to recognize how I’m feeling and how it has affected the way I interact and the way I stay present every day. The humility I feel with each experience has been so powerful that at times it has brought me to my knees. The result of all of these experiences has found me wanting to pay forward my changed perspective. (I encourage you to please read The Noticer by Andy Andrews for a deeper meaning to a changed perspective. It is an incredible book.) I’ve noticed that I am calmer, more even tempered, more forgiving, I listen deeper and I notice more around me. I want to share with you some insights I noticed in reference to humility that have been coming to the surface of my awareness as I let myself truly feel the changes that are coming over me.

*Be Grateful“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Leave no stone unturned in your approach and reverence toward being grateful. Feeling grateful is humbling. Dr. Robert Emmons writes in his book, Thanks! “Grateful thinking fosters the savoring of positive life experiences and situations.” When you are showing gratitude you are being humble in the presence of the experience and honoring your awareness.

*No Contest. We are each unique. We are one of a kind. There is no one on earth like us. Celebrate your unique status. Don’t compare yourself to someone else. Celebrate the fact that we can each learn from one another at any moment in our lives. Our soul’s purpose is to help each other grow and learn and reach and become and achieve.

“Don’t compare yourself to anyone in this world; if you do you are insulting yourself.” –Bill Gates

*Learn for life.  We were not born knowing everything there is to know. True, our experiences solidify certainties that we hold on to with fierce determination but what if what we believed to be true wasn’t really the only truth? Wisdom comes from learning and bending and experimenting with many perspectives. Stay open in your mind and soul to always learn from every experience. Don’t close a door because the lesson was hard the first time around. Take a deep breath and see what you can see.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” –Joseph Campbell

*Kill with Kindness. Do good work and people will notice. Do great work and people will wonder who you are and how to be like you. Do great work always. Let your kind acts speak for themselves. Don’t boast or brag and don’t be kind to be noticed. Be kind because everyone is need of kindness every day. Let go of the self and be the selfless.

“The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council

*Let Go of the Outcome. More times than not life will interfere with the plans we make. The outcome of any hoped for situation will invariably end not as we expected or wanted. Exchange the word expectation to something much more real and soft and usable like hope, surprise, awe, wonder, magic, or magnificence. Humility lives in these new words. Work hard, follow your heart, do what you need to do but then let go of the outcome. The results will be what they were meant to be because you had a hand in it. We don’t know everything so let the energy of your great work and the energy you put out into the universe help to decide the ending.

“Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.”  Samuel Johnson

Call to Action 

Share with me the answers to these questions. Your stories are everything to me.

Where were you kind today?

What are you grateful for today? Is there something you are grateful for that hasn’t happened yet?

Where did you leave ego and self at home?

Who did you humble yourself to today?

What caught inside of your soul today that made you stop breathing and fall to your knees with humility and honesty?

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, creating awareness of humility, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.