Walking Civil War

3 08 2017

Cognitive dissonance.  “Your walk doesn’t match your talk.” Integrity vs. hypocrisy.

Part of the daily journey on this planet is learning to be one person.  Not two.  Or three.  Or six.  Integrity is related to “integer.”  A mathematical concept.  A whole number.

To live in integrity means “wholeness.”  It means our actions match our words, our values, our creeds, our codes of conduct.  You have enough to do to simply be one person.  There’s not enough energy, time or sense to construct false selves and alternate lives.

Choosing a path of duplicity and hypocrisy puts you at odds…with yourself.  You become, in effect, a walking civil war.  Fragmented.  Battling with your own heart.  Here are the takeaways of such a lousy choice:

  • Sleepless nights
  • A default tendency to look over your shoulder. “Who’s after me?  Who knows what I’ve done?”
  • The need to invent more lies to cover up your lies.
  • You medicate.  Simple—you can’t live with all these selves.  So you numb pain.  Take your pick: Drugs, booze, sex, shopping, endless busyness.  And a thousand other bypaths.

Live what you believe.  Keep your word.  Be one, not six persons.  Then sleep in peace.

 

Suggested Resources:

Who You Are When No One’s Looking: Choosing Consistency, Resisting Compromise (Bill Hybels)

Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality (Henry Cloud)

 

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Switchfoot “Twenty-Four”

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Get Real!

31 08 2013

be-true1

“Honesty is such a lonely word.  Everyone is so untrue.  Honesty is hardly ever heard.  But mostly what I need from you….” (Billy Joel)

Life thrives on health.  And healthy relationships thrive on honesty, on commitment to truth, whatever pains may ensue.  This is the same for all human interactions—with spouse, children, parents, colleagues, friends, etc.  But supremely with God and oneself.

I’m learning that in order to be honest with others, I must first be honest with myself.  I have to summon the moral courage to take a good look at where I’m at, what I like and dislike, where I’m going and with whom I’m going.

My wife has been the truest friend I’ve ever had largely because she sees me and tells me the truth, rarely with anything other than love.  She has helped me be courageous in asking myself tough questions about life and answering with the antidote of truth, even though it hurts.  One of my targets over the past few years is the practice of radical honesty, primarily with myself.  This will help me be more authentic with others because I’m a unity, rather than a potpourri of different selves adapting to the moment.

Go get alone, maybe with a journal and a cup of coffee or glass of wine, whatever, and ask yourself these tough questions and answer honestly:

  • Am I being true to my professed values, both in the public eye as well as out of line of sight? There is inherent tension that visits us when we profess one thing and live another.
  • Have I come to terms with the fact that I drove my own car to the place I’m at and to go further in my journey, I’ll have to drive there? Devil didn’t make you do it, the economy either, nor your parents.  Did they influence? Of course.  But we either acted or chose not to act.  This is a tough sell but you must own this.
  • If money were no option, what would I do for a career?  We’ve posted previously here at The Upside about the importance of doing what you love and were designed to do.  You have a sacred obligation to provide for your own, even if digging ditches.  But don’t stop there.  Work towards your dream occupation.  President Kennedy was fond of quoting the Greek maxim: “Happiness consists in the full use of one’s faculties along lines of excellence in a life affording them scope.”
  • Am I continuing to nurture relationships that are hurting me? I spoke with a dear friend about this point earlier today.  This is something of a mantra on this blog, but you really have to choose your circle of friends and acquaintances carefully.  Do they spur you on or deflate you?  And can you goad them in the direction of their best selves?  A certain prominent minister was once given the sage advice “You need to go where you’re celebrated, not where you’re tolerated.”  Think about that.  In what environments are you most appreciated—who you are as a person, your giftings, and your values?  It matters.

Honesty is therapy.  You will ultimately be a much happier person as you really start to tell yourself the way it is from this moment on.  There may be pain at the outset but that will be replaced with more peace, if only because you’re finally authentic.

“To thine own self be true.”

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Respect: Its Acquisition and Maintenance

29 08 2013

command-dont-demand-respect-fullSome time ago, I had a thought-provoking discussion with a group of young leaders.   A good deal of our interaction concerned the concept of respect.  Respect is something that is often misunderstood and confused with deference.  Let me explain.

Deference is the perfunctory and appropriate behavior we manifest towards position, authority and station in life.  You may not agree with a decision your boss or your President made this past week.  But prudence dictates that you are restrained when you express your displeasure and disagreement.  You do so mindful of the offices they occupy.  That is deference.

Respect, on the other hand, is rather an instinctual behavior, like sweating in hot, humid weather.  The gain or loss of respect is predicated on the presence or absence of integrity.  Put another way, deference is given; respect is earned.   It is an automatic response to the practice of integrity.

This is the way of life.  I’ve watched men in high office—political, corporate and ecclesiastical—demand respect without manifesting the kind of behavior that entitles them to respect.  It is unedifying, to say the least, and breeds cynicism in their constituents.  If you want respect, you’ve got to pay your dues.  They are substantial.  Respect is always earned.

I’ve both gained and lost the respect of people, especially those closest to me, over nearly fifty years of life.  This has always been in just proportion to my integrity or lack of it.  It’s no use for me to whine about “not getting respect” if I’ve not dug deep and won it.  There are no shortcuts.

How then does one win this prize, something essential to all human beings and particularly important to males?

  • Walk in integrity.  If you profess a creed, certain values and expectations, you must back these up with the currency of consistency.  You cannot keep two sets of books.  Be one person.  Not two or four or a dozen.  What you are in public must equate what you are when you are outside of public view, in the crucible of the secret place.
  • When you blow it, admit it. No equivocation.  No excuses.  No blame-shifting.  If you screw up, own it.  All of it.  And say you’re sorry and rebuild.  Apologizing and amending one’s ways with earnestness begins building respect immediately.
  • Realize that you cannot mandate an instinctive behavior.  You can say, “I am your father and you will not speak to me that way” to a mouthy child.  That is fair and right.  But when someone calls you out for your failures, you are not authorized to pull rank to avoid dealing with your transgressions.  If you do, you are a fool.  A big fool.  Don’t go there.

This prize is worth fighting for.  Be true, humble, and serve.  You’ll earn more respect than you know what to do with.

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Criticism and Graciousness

13 07 2013

criticismTwo years ago, I changed positions within my company.  I welcomed the chance for advancement as well the challenge of learning a new skill set.  I’ve been at this for about twenty-three months now.

I work in Information Technology.  IT is a field that is characterized by regular innovation and obsolescence, multiple problem-solving opportunities and, if done well, precision.  I work in the Quality Assurance department of our company.  It is the task of my very able colleagues and I to assure that the product we deliver to our clients (Fortune 500 companies and others) is of the highest quality and functions flawlessly.  In a word, our work has to be perfect.  Or as close to perfect as is humanly possible.

This means that a regular requirement of my job involves me inspecting the work—essentially, architectural drawings of computer equipment–of my colleagues and calling them over to my desk to go over what they’ve submitted, praising wherever possible, but also pointing out errors and mistakes, how to correct them and improve the overall quality of their work.

We have an office full of winsome and intelligent professionals who take their work very seriously and are sensitive to any shortcomings in what they produce.  I’ve watched as some of them look crestfallen—furrowed brow and all—when I’ve brought an error to their attention.  I try not to be calloused when dealing with people.  Ask those who know me.  They’ll tell you.  Especially when I have to look in the eyes of the one I am critiquing.  I fall all over myself, feeling bad that I have to take some sunshine out of their day.

Real correction is not a picnic.  Real, meaning when you have to look square in the eyes of someone and smell their perfume, cologne or even their breath.

I must tell you that this has given me an entirely different perspective on the often irresponsible practice of criticizing another human being who doesn’t happen to be in the same room, out of earshot and eye contact.  A practice, unfortunately, that comes easy to human beings.  And easy to me.

I try to critique those for whom I’m responsible with as much grace as is humanly possible.  I have to look them in the eye when I do it.  It’s really easy to be a critic when those who are the target of your criticisms will never be within breathing distance.  That’s like shooting fish in a pail.  No challenge.  No intelligence needed.  And often, given the nature of the criticisms, no intelligence involved at any stage.

Maybe this should be the benchmark for our often glib and sloppy criticisms of people and stuff.  “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” says a proverb from the Bible (Proverbs 18:21).  Can you look the person in the eye? Would you…?  How quickly would we criticize someone (a politician, a performing artist, a minister, a member of my circle) if we were required be in the same room when giving a critique of their work?  Just like I have to do each day with my co-workers.

I’ve found that showing genuine appreciation wherever possible creates life.  In others and in me.  And it makes the corrections a whole lot more palatable.  If you must critique and correct, do so with grace, tact and love.

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Inspiration For Today: Kristin’s Thoughts on Integrity

13 07 2012

Enjoy this excellent post on integrity from fellow blogger Kristin Barton Cuthriell. Check out her posts–they’re fantastic!





R-E-S-P-E-C-T

23 06 2012

We had a thought-provoking discussion in our weekly leadership/mentoring time today.  A good deal of our interaction concerned the concept of respect.  Respect is something that is often misunderstood, confused with deference.  Let me explain.

Deference is the perfunctory and appropriate behavior we manifest towards position, authority and station in life.  We may not, for example, agree with Attorney General Eric Holder’s behavior this past week as he was called to Congressional account over what he and the Department of Justice knew regarding the Fast and Furious debacle.  But we address him as “Mr. Attorney General” or simply “General.”  That is deference.  It is inappropriate to use a Congressional hearing to grandstand and needlessly demean the AG.  Same goes for White House press conferences.  You may not like President Obama—or any of his predecessors—but heckling him in public is inappropriate and unprofessional.  So is flipping off the portrait of the late President Ronald Reagan.  You defer to the office he occupies and give it due weight.  That is deference.

Respect, on the other hand, is rather an instinctual behavior, like sweating in hot, humid weather.  The gain or loss of respect is predicated on the presence or absence of integrity.  Put another way, deference is given; respect is earned.   It is an automatic response to the practice of integrity.

This is the way of life.  I’ve watched men in high office—political, corporate and ecclesiastical—demand respect without manifesting the kind of behavior that entitles them to respect.  It is unedifying to say the least and breeds cynicism in their constituents.  If you want respect, you’ve got to pay your dues.  They are substantial.  Respect is always earned.

I’ve both gained and lost the respect of people, especially those closest to me, over forty-eight years of life.  This has always been in just proportion to my integrity or lack of it.  It’s no use for me to whine about “not getting respect” if I’ve not dug deep and won it.  There are no shortcuts.

How then does one win this prize, something essential to all human beings and particularly important to males?

  • Walk in integrity.  If you profess a creed, certain values and expectations, you must back these up with the currency of consistency.  You cannot keep two sets of books.  Be one person.  Not two or four or a dozen.  What you are in public must equate what you are when you are outside of public view, in the crucible of the secret place.
  • When you blow it, admit it. No equivocation.  No excuses.  No blame-shifting.  If you screw up, own it.  All of it.  And say you’re sorry and rebuild.  Apologizing and amending one’s ways with earnestness begins building respect immediately.
  • Realize that you cannot mandate an instinctive behavior.  You can say, “I am your father and you will not speak to me that way” to a mouthy child.  That is fair and right.  But when someone calls you out for your failures, you are not authorized to pull rank to avoid dealing with your transgressions.  If you do, you are a fool.  A fool cubed.

This prize is worth fighting for.  Be true, humble, and serve.  You’ll earn more respect than you know what to do with.

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A World Without Secrets

8 02 2012

This past week the American people were treated to the unedifying spectacle of a woman, formerly a White House intern, alleging an affair with a former president.   Apparently a hot news item for those who thrive on the tawdry.

Whether or not this dalliance took place is not the point of this post.  This does, however, highlight something that is most relevant to us who now live in a digital universe:

Secrets.

There really are none.

If you read here often you know that I make my living in the Information Sciences.  IT is one of the most complex and profoundly detailed enterprises in our world.  Those of us who traffic in IT on a daily basis often shake our heads, wondering “What on earth was he or she thinking when they did this?” concerning the latest bit of unflattering information that hits the Web and goes viral.  Inappropriate texts.  Party animal videos.  Smoking-gun memos intended to be kept under cover.

Someone once said, in the aftermath of the fall of a high-profile leader, “You should live your life as if there were no such thing as a secret, because there are none.”

Here are some things to remember when making choices, in light of living in the Information Age:

  • Integrity, above all, must be your watchword.  Be consistent in public and private.
  • Anything you say, do or have recorded is ultimately accessible.  Most Americans carry a phone in their pocket or purse that transmits and receives information that is stored on servers and tape in data centers around the world as digital information.  Texts, phone messages, photographs and video; it’s all there courtesy of your cell phone. The same applies to computers of any form.  Where you and I go on the internet, what we send in emails and tweets, etc.–everything is preserved and can be resurrected in the most embarrassing ways and inconvenient moments.  It has ruined the potential of a lot of people.
  • Poor choice of words can get you in legal hot water. Rants and other ill-advised utterances when splattered on a blog, an email or in range of some kind of recording device are admissible evidence in lawsuits for slander, libel, or defamation of character.  We live in an increasingly litigious society and people sue at the drop of a hat.  If in doubt, don’t.
  • Human beings make poor skeleton closets.  We are not designed to conceal deeds of darkness and foolishness.  It corrodes like battery acid and nearly always emerges, even if years later.
  • God is watching. One day we will all account for every word and deed.  Be prepared.

If you are always the same, publicly and privately, you will have nothing to worry about.  No need to cover tracks and look over your shoulder.  It really is the only way to live.  Start today.

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