This cartoon by the late cartoonist John Callahan comes to mind often, now that I live in SoCal. I’ve referred to it in conversation and it illustrates one of the differences between NY and LA. When I was back in NYC to visit a friend, I was reminded of the unspoken rules of no eye contact or smiles for strangers. Some behavior is indeed regional.
I’ve met a lot of people in my new hometown, who are more interested in being nice than being straight. Many have even commented on my authenticity.
The first time someone made that comment, I had made a commitment to assist with an event. I had gone through quite a bit to get there on time. It involved a costly, unplanned flight from San Francisco. When I arrived, I was tired and cranky and even a little resentful that I had made such a valiant effort to honor my word, when others who were local, came late or cancelled.
So when someone asked how I was, I told them! Their response was “Wow, you’re really authentic!”
Integrity, doing what you say, saying what you mean, and meaning what you say is something that I hold in high esteem, especially as a martial artist . (Check out another post, On the Matter of Your Word from my Taekwon-Dawn blog.)
Integrity, by definition means being whole and complete. If your actions are in line with your commitments, you will have a clear conscious. When you start compromising your actions, you will start to feel out of sorts. It will have an impact on your vitality. Your body will express the disconnect in various ways to draw your attention to where your integrity is out.
Integrity in this context is a matter of workability, not morality. For example, if you are not committed to losing weight, eating that maple bacon doughnut is not out of integrity. However, if you’re trying to lose weight or eliminate sugar then that same doughnut, although delicious doesn’t work. It’s not good or bad. It just doesn’t work with what you’re committed to.
I used to smoke cigarettes before I opened my martial arts school in NYC. However, I knew I did not want to be seen smoking, especially in front of my young students or their parents. I contemplated hiding it by not smoking anywhere near the school but it was not in line with who I wanted to be for my students and the community, so I quit.
Having Integrity creates Authenticity. You can not be authentic while selling yourself out and not honoring the things that are important to you. If I didn’t care about being a good role model for my students, my smoking wouldn’t have been a problem.
Check out this list of examples of Integrity. I’m sure that most of you have experienced these examples. I know I have. In each instance, how did you feel?