Integrity is a word often used in marketing plans for businesses to describe a multitude of ‘standards’ they embed in their operations and leadership, such as having a fair workplace, splitting staff bonuses equally or producing cosmetic products without harmful testing on animals. All of these are important aspects within business and matter to their customers, but what if the word ‘integrity’ actually meant more than just having ‘good’ business values? What if integrity was such a crucial and grand aspect of life that our every step had an impact on our own integrity and equally that of the services we deliver throughout our day, be it our work, looking after children, caring for members of our family or even our study?
Something that has always stuck with me is the question, ‘do you walk your talk?’, and this is pivotal in our definition of integrity.
In life we express A LOT. Naturally we express in conversation and physical ‘talk’, but equally in emails, texts, in the products we create at work and other imprints we leave behind as we go about our day. If we go to the supermarket we interact with people, if we are a teacher, we deliver lessons and as a hairdresser every haircut is an expression and product, to name but a few examples. All of these moments have an impact on another, and the interesting thing about expression is that you cannot have an expression without there being an energy that accompanies it.
Another important ingredient in understanding integrity comes from basic physics and that is that everything is in fact energy (e=mc²). This means that all of the particles that make us up are governed by forces and energy. It is also fact that energy cannot be created or destroyed, however it can change form and change by the way it is expressed.
So, we have expression – the ‘talk’ – and we have energy… then where does the ‘walk’ come into things and how does this have an impact on the quality of what we deliver in our day?
For a few years I have been working as a teacher and this is where the importance of the ‘walk’ has been so clearly revealed to me. A lot of my teaching actually happens on the weekends, and what I have discovered is that the way in which l’ve ‘walked’ during the week and up to that point affects
a) The quality of the lessons I deliver and
b) My intention and focus in the moment to deliver exactly what is needed to support the students I am with
To expand on part a), which is very practical and extremely important – what steps have I made in the week which led me to the moment of teaching a lesson?
Have I made myself exhausted and run-down as a result of being in delay of the things I need to complete, and as a result I now feel self-doubt about doing the ‘wrong thing’ when I’m teaching? Or, have my steps been purposeful, focussed and loving, and I can see that the gold accumulated by making these steps is ready to be poured into the lesson?
All of the above – the livingness – is the walk. It’s all of the in-between bits, how we look after ourselves and how we choose to maximise the moments which make up our day. From experience my livingness can be my rock, and in a moment where you are asked to do the ‘talking’, teach or deliver something, there is a way to live which allows you to be completely ready and enriched to love and express in full.
It’s as if every step made with purpose is a coin into the bank, and expressing those riches is the easy bit.
To expand on part b) – our intentions and willingness to give something our all – is also paramount to integrity.
Having worked as an ambassador for charities, this is an area where intentions and agendas are highlighted to the hilt, and what I have seen is that many ‘self-less’ tasks can in fact be very full of self-driven agendas. On a few occasions over the past few years I have had to question my own intentions, as there were particular talks and events which were sold to me as completely priceless opportunities to get my name out there and make connections with very high-up and influential individuals, but a friend supported me to see that this was not entirely true and there could in fact be a hidden price to pay. In anything that we do, if our intentions are entirely self-led, then that driving force is exactly what is expressed. No matter how nice the words sound, the underlying energy is the same and the poison from that force can have a profound impact on the body, as well as on whoever receives it.
Building relationships and saying yes to opportunities can absolutely be done differently with integrity – the livingness backing you, and a willingness to love and deliver the truth with no conditions of fulfilling an agenda. Any opportunity can thus be an opportunity for magic.
Revisiting the teaching example is a beautiful way to conclude our exploration of what integrity really means. What a student receives in a lesson is not just the words, the skills or understanding they are being taught, but most importantly they meet your integrity and your livingness.
This can be our greatest tool no matter what we do in our day, and it should be life’s business to deepen our integrity so that others are inspired to walk their own steps of purpose and magic.