In my blog a few weeks ago, I wrote that the word integrity shows up on the value lists of most individuals and organizations. But that is where things stop. The problem with this is that integrity is relative unless measured and framed with a positive ethos. Otherwise, it can be a big negative.
So now, let’s continue with a story about one of our SEALFIT students who did an about-face 10 feet before the turnaround point on a timed run. He thought he was alone and that nobody would see him. But there were two souls watching that night.
One was a SEALFIT coach, and the student himself was the other. In the end the coach held him accountable…but it was his own consciousness that caused him to experience the pain of regret. Cheating, especially on the small things that seem inconsequential, never pays. The short-term gain is overshadowed by the regret or shame that accompanies the inevitable exposure of the dishonor.
Another example is seen in the phony SEAL pretending to be something he is not. I have exposed several of these guys including a college professor and several successful businessmen. There was even a state senator who rode this false glory to office. To this day I am stunned at the audacity and lack of honor these men displayed.
Aligning thoughts, words, and actions honorably doesn’t mean you have to always blurt out the truth or turn in a colleague who slips up. There are many situations such as this where wisdom would dictate a sensitive response over a blanket policy. I can definitely think of scenarios where saying nothing is more honorable.
I was once contacted by a young woman seeking information about her dad, who had told her about his heroic exploits as a SEAL in Vietnam. The problem was that he was not a real SEAL. The news put me in a dilemma: Was it my job to expose the fraud to her? How would the girl’s life change when she found out her father had been lying to her for her entire life…was I to play the judge, jury and executioner in this case? I decided the answer was no; I would not expose the man’s fraud to her, leaving it to him to live with his dishonor.
I recommend a practice I call authentic communication as a means to develop honorable integrity. This practice, done in conversation, slows down and interrupts your patterned responses, exposing the trenches where self-serving dishonor lies in wait. It is to speak only if what you have to say is true, it is helpful (wise), and comes from a place of positivity (love).
Then you will endeavor to follow your words with aligned actions to fulfill your promises. With this guideline, much can be left unspoken and what is spoken has power. The actions that follow are anchored in truth, wisdom, and love. My guess is the world would also be a much quieter place and better as a result of this work!
Hooyah, Mark Divine