Monday, April 29, 2013

Integrity and Loyalty

Greetings, gentle readers.

Long time no write, eh?  It's been a few months, and while part of me thinks I should apologize for the space, the truth of the matter is I've been taking care of me, and that's taken precedence over sharing thoughts in public forums.  With the main areas of my (or anyone's) life moving towards much greater stability (income, awesome roommate, etc), I actually have some bandwidth to contemplate...

And you know what happens when I contemplate - I write.

I frequently teach about negotiation, and one of the concepts I use in those classes I borrowed from Midori.  That concept is of "core pillars". Midori teaches this a bit differently than I, and she deserves author credit for gifting me and her many students with the idea that can be oversimplifed thusly:

Your ego/identity is like a house on pillars.  Some of those pillars are required for the house to stand - they correlate to load-bearing walls.  Some of those pillars aren't required for the house to stand.  If you and/or your partner/s wish to challenge pillars, it's safest to do so with the ones that aren't load-bearing.

Structures that are integral to the integrity of your 'house' are core to the who of you.  They can be aspects such as identities around ethnicity, religion, intelligence, gender, etc., and what's integral for one person may or may not be integral for another.

Our core pillars are not only important, they are our strengths and are positive. Some people have core pillars around inclusion and activism, while others have core pillars around honesty and their sense of intelligence. 

I was thinking recently how my actions are frequently influenced...  no - determined by my core pillars, and there's one in particular that affects my
behavior.  That core pillar is one I call integrity.  Integrity as I understand and live it has two meanings.  One meaning is simple:  adherence to moral and
ethical principals.  Another meaning has to do with congruency:  that I'm walking my talk - it has to do with my Word.   Am I perfect in this?  Good gods, no.  I'm dishonest on occasion.  I sometimes slip deadlines. 

That said, if something is going to keep me up at night, it's most likely to be an awareness that I was out of integrity with someone or some thing. As an example:  I just went out to a retail store to get some household items.  I put a packet of AAA batteries in the upper section of the cart I was using, and neglected to put it on the checkout stand to be charged.  I didn't realize this until I was at my car, loading in the other items.

Free Batteries! you might say.  I mean, it's not like I *meant* to steel them, right?  Nobody saw me leave the store with them.  It's just one little packet of things..  no big deal.   

I could have taken the batteries easily.  The thing is, I know it would bother me to have done so, because, to be in integrity with the retail store, I need to pay for the items I remove from it. (a side note - I tried shoplifting once and thank gods I was caught).

I went back into the store with my receipt and paid.


One way this shows up for me most often is via my Word, as in - if I give you my Word, I will do what I can to honor it.  Again - I am in no way perfect at this, and, if I promise someone I will or won't do something, then that's what it is. 

Seems like a great way to live, right?  It is, until the core pillar of integrity comes up against an equally laudable and yet potentially conflicting pillar.  Loyalty is one that I but up against sometimes.

Loyalty has to do with allegiance to something or someone, and can also map to a group or a cause.  One who is loyal will do or not do something based on his/her perception of what would keep him/her in alignment with that something or someone towards whom they are loyal.  This is not the same as integrity, as the Word of the loyal is secondary to the Will of that to which s/he shows allegiance. 

I am and can be loyal, yes, and loyalty is not a core pillar of mine.  Some people who know me say I'm loyal, because I have relationships that span decades (longest running friendships are both entering their 41st year this year), but I don't see that as loyalty. I see that as commitment - and that has to do with my Word.

I've been around people for whom loyalty is core, and they will and have broken their Word to me due to the prevailing drive to remain loyal to someone or some thing.  

In the past, I've found this kind of behavior extremely challenging to be around, as I perceived that I couldn't trust folks for whom loyalty is more important than integrity (and of course there are myriad other core pillars - I'm just writing about these two for now).

What I came to realize is that expecting someone for whom loyalty is so much more important than integrity to act in accordance with my world view isn't compassionate, nor does it create the space for me to meet them where they are.

You'll know loyalty is important to someone when they use words like 'I know where my loyalty lies', 'honor' and 'duty'.  You'll know that integrity is important to someone when they use words like 'I have to do that thing, because I gave my Word' and 'I made a promise'.

I think there's an internal/external variable at play here.  Integrity has to do with ones self, whereas loyalty has to do with an other.  

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this.

1 comment:

  1. Bendy, I wholeheartedly agree with this. It's what we do when no one but ourselves will know that is the truest indicator of who we are.