Research Paper By Richard Haynes
(Business Coach, CANADA)
We have all seen people rise and fall as they pursue greatness. When this journey is publicized due to notoriety, politics, technology, sports or any other major interest that involves excellence or has the potential to impact a lot of people, those involved are scrutinized and looked at from a wide variety of angles and interests. They feel the pressures of special interest groups, fans, the general public and anyone who holds a stake in the power and influence they possess. Often this scrutiny will attempt to poke holes in what is called their integrity and it becomes truly easy to side with the individual or the critic based on how we view the story and how it may or may not resonate with our own values. What makes us do this? What affects the way we make these decisions and view the journey of the person we are considering? How does this reaction and the way we view the world paint the story we see and what we become?
Real Integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody is going to know whether you did it or not[i] –Oprah Winfrey
In its simplest form integrity is defined as doing what you say you are going to do; at least this seems to be the form we look to in video and print media. As this is a primary means society consumes information, it is often a commonly held view of the definition.
Let’s take a closer look at the word and it’s meaning. Wikipedia states,
The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.”[ii] The discussion about wholeness of character is particularly intriguing. We often judge that others have integrity, but if it is to act according to ones values, beliefs and principles which are very intimate characteristics and can change with new knowledge and understanding then how can integrity be determined by anyone other than oneself? Yet we see and feel the power that emanates from others when they are aligned with who they are, those moments of greatness that shine from within.
For me the biggest question is ‘how do I get there?’ I truly want to live my life from a place of wholeness where my words and actions are aligned with the values, beliefs and principles I connect with. With this article I hope to provide additional understanding and tools for you that can: stimulate thoughts to open awareness around your own personal alignment and wholeness, provide further understanding of what can work to awaken the greatness that you have within yourself and perhaps aid in your own journey to greater alignment and living each moment with integrity.
Integrity is the common denominator that sustains every other principle of everyday greatness. … People with integrity are those whose words match their deeds and whose behaviors mirror their values. Their honesty and ethics can be trusted unconditionally.[iii] Stephen R. Covey
I can’t define a specific memory or watershed moment in my own journey that pointed me in the direction of living with integrity. What I can express is that my feeling of wholeness has been greatly increased as the self-awareness has grown. To be fair I need to break down this query to look at various aspects of my life in separate segments, much as the integrity of a structure needs to have many different elements inspected to determine soundness, or wholeness. The forefront aspect of my life right now is my coaching journey. Over the last 2 years I have been asked many times, why pursue coaching? To this my response has been, it’s mission and purpose driven. Sometimes follow-up questions ensue, but most of the time for the passing observer, this is understood and I often get a further response observing that I appear to be passionate about it, which is true. But … how can they tell that I am passionate about what I’m doing from a few words, or even further questions and answers? There must be something more than it just being mission driven, perhaps the alignment displays a conviction or energy that can be felt from my response, perhaps it’s something else that brings the observation. Interestingly the observation is almost always expressed in the same way, passion.
Hindsight aids clarity, and the earliest memory I have of a career interest in the development and excellence of people happened when I was working as a limousine chauffeur before my first year of University. I was at the Calgary, AB International airport standing beside a gentleman who was watching for a group of people from the same flight I was waiting for. As we visited he explained to me that the company he worked for was holding a retreat in Banff that weekend for people who were interested in developing their potential and achieving their personal best. I don’t remember further details of the conversation, but what I do remember is my heart feeling joy to know that there existed such a career! Surely this is what I wanted to spend my life doing. Still there was an inner knowing that more needed to happen for me. I knew that I needed to attend University, I just wasn’t sure what course would take me down the road I wanted.
As I registered for my classes, I spoke with as many people as I could to find a way to receive training that would help move me towards the vocation described by the gentleman in the airport. Nothing jumped out, so I finally settled on taking pre-commerce courses thinking that Human Resources (HR) might hold the potential I was looking for. In my third year I entered the Business school at the University of Calgary and went to my first full HR class where the instructor told us, if we were planning to pursue a career in HR because we wanted to help people, we were in the wrong class. He went on to explain that HR was about benefits, retirement, employee discipline, buyouts, mergers and doing what was best for the corporation which didn’t always align with what was best for the employees. This information put an abrupt end to the HR path and I had to circle back to determine which area of business I would place my focus instead, settling on Finance because I was told it was the most challenging.
I completed my undergraduate degree with a sense of accomplishment and worked for a while at a bank before I landed a corporate job as a Facilities Manager. I was ecstatic to have begun a career because at this point my wife and I had 2 children and it was time to start supporting them. The experience in the airport was now a distant memory.
Fast forward five years and I had another inner knowing that it was time go back to school for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. I found a mixed delivery program for an executive MBA and started. The program was excellent and my team members amazing. It was an enjoyable experience until I took my option classes, one of them being “Coaching for Performance.” This class moved the experience to incredible and resonated with me at a deeper level. I felt the principles of professional coaching speak to me and even after graduating I couldn’t stop talking about how amazing the course was. One of my friends and colleagues went back and took this course after the MBA was done because many of us kept telling him how great it was. Little did I know that his going would change my career direction in a profound way.
A class requirement for him was to have clients to practice coaching with, so I volunteered. I still remember some of the questions he asked that challenged my viewpoints. The big breakthrough happened when a question was asked that I wasn’t willing to discuss because of how uncomfortable I felt thinking about the answer. He challenged me to face it with someone I could discuss it with and to let it go. I faced it that night, and the next morning I woke up and saw the world in a different brighter light. I could hear the birds singing, the songs from my iPod that I had heard many times felt new again and the colors, vegetation and sunshine were vibrant. Without really knowing what had happened I had become aligned with myself and felt and viewed the world in its present state. I drove downtown in Ottawa that morning and passed a men’s shelter where an individual who was leaning against the wall outside of the building with one foot on the ground and the other against the wall had his head hung down looking very forlorn. My heart went out to him in that instant with a great amount of compassion and empathy, I wondered how someone with so much potential could be where he was and I felt a deep desire to help. In that instant I remembered the call I had felt so many years before standing and talking to the gentleman in the airport. I knew that I needed to become a coach, that my own alignment and integrity depended upon my helping people to achieve their hopes, dreams and aspirations and live their own everyday greatness.
Identifying the ”Inner Knowing”
After reading my story you might be asking what exactly is the “inner knowing” and if it is there do I really need to identify it? Is it something that just shows up when I work hard and after a great result in hindsight will say “yeah, I felt flow as I did that”? Or is the inner knowing a mystical spiritual principle that only spiritual people can identify and I need to wait my turn or meditate an hour a day, which I don’t have time for. Perhaps the inner knowing is something that will happen when it does, so I just need to allow it when the time is right.
I would like to suggest to you that this “inner knowing” is far less mystical than the term makes it sound. In a nutshell I define it as high energy alignment. This is when your values, thoughts and intentions find congruence. When this happens actions will follow. Easy, right? Well, how well do you truly know what your values are? And how often do they shift? A few days ago I heard a thought which communicated that ‘great leaders know more about themselves than anyone else.’ So now you might be thinking, alright, so the inner knowing is now connected to leadership too? Yup. Just try googling “leadership + knowing yourself” and see what comes up.
So what are some options to know yourself better? I recently had a conversation with a friend who explained a powerful experience she had with her coach. She had two really good ideas that she could write about but had to decide between them for a time sensitive article. In the coaching process she was asked questions around each one that helped her build her own awareness about each topic. She said that in this process of talking about them she realized that one of the topics gave her much more energy than the other. After a few minutes it became obvious which one she was to write on. Her experience wasn’t just lost on choosing the proper topic, she had gained much more by discovering where her values aligned with her desires at that moment. This inner knowing then empowered her to lead her actions.
In the opening chapter of his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey outlines the importance of knowing oneself and leadership. He shares the idea of a paradigm shift and how he and his wife both had to have this shift first before their son began to move into his potential. Their reaching outside of themselves long enough brought on what he describes as a painful awareness of their own character and motives. They then shifted their attention to these motives and detached them and their identity from their child’s success. It also allowed their son the space he needed to forge into his own identity becoming the great success their original motives had always hoped for.[iv] Without calling it that, they had connected with their own “inner knowing” by building new awareness.
Some other suggestions to build the “inner knowing”:
- Pay attention to what is felt in your body during intense experiences, look at what sensations come and where they are felt, what thoughts, feelings and experiences trigger these responses.
- Take on a challenge to stretch yourself. I suggest making it something that will take you out of your comfort zone and give you a chance to reach deep within to use and develop new abilities. During this process pay attention to what thoughts come up and look at what triggered these thoughts to surface.
- Meditation is used by many around the world to get centered and be present to see what is going on within. There are many different types and teachers of meditation, from my explorations the common theme is that they all are designed to help the individual “quiet their mind” and become aware of their present state. Often the focus starts with paying attention to one’s breath and then slowly find the stillness deep within. This lets the mind rest and allows for a greater awareness of oneself.
- Use the Mirror principle: this is the concept that how we see the world around us is a reflection of how we see ourselves. This doesn’t necessarily represent our true nature, but when we see how we acknowledge and look at others and the world, the cognizance of how we view ourselves can be very powerful and promote awareness around our thoughts, feelings and actions which can allow us to see our own integrity with greater clarity.
- Give selfless service without expectation of return. Pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that come up in this experience and explore where they come from and what beliefs they might be related to.
- Take a personality assessment test such as the MBTI, or a Branding Tool assessment such as the Fascination advantage assessment tool.
- Hire a coach to pursue goals and raise belief and thought awareness.
Realize deeply that the present moment is all that you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.[v] – Eckhart Tolle
Many of the great spiritual leaders past and present teach of the power that exists while consciously being in the present moment. The concept is that this is truly all that we have, right now. The past has already happened and the future is yet to be determined. Thinking or focusing on either of these is done in the present moment, so this is truly where life is lived and the power to learn, grow, change and make an impact exists. It is also the place where integrity resides. We can only express the wholeness of who we are in the present moment. As individuals we are dynamic and as we have new experiences our viewpoints change, with enough of them we might experience transformation(s) in the way we see the world. As this happens our values and beliefs can shift and as a result being true to ourselves will take on a different meaning than it had before the new experiences and the new learning. In this way the present moment is the only place we can truly express who we are, the past has happened and we were different in that moment anyways if only slightly. The future can only be guessed at as it is yet to be determined.
When we connect to the Stillness within, we move beyond our active minds and emotions and discover great depths of lasting peace, contentment, and serenity.[vi] – Eckhart Tolle
Part of living in the present moment can be to find the stillness within. I believe that this stillness is where we can find and tap into our true integrity. As Tolle expresses there are great depths of peace, contentment and serenity found when connecting with this place, it could also be seen as perfect alignment with who we are. Our society considers people who reach this place as “enlightened”, their journey has taken them on the path far enough that they are able to comprehend the concept of who they are at the core, in the stillness. These people have found the inner sense of wholeness.
High energy emotions such as Gratitude and love are experienced in the present moment. They have the power to draw us back from the past or future to fully experiencing where we are now. In an effort to stay present many people keep a gratitude journal. Using this practice they often find that it keeps them “centered” or “present” and gives them the focus in life that they want. It helps them appreciate who they are. This practice can open up greater awareness and empowerment as to know and appreciate what you bring to the world holds the potential to bring great joy and fulfillment into one’s life. It has the potential to aid the journey to a place of stillness.
Business and Career
Perhaps you are wondering how this will help you in your career. You might be a small business owner, starting in a large corporation or well into a career where you are still growing or feeling stagnant. Only you know the situation you are in and whether you feel that what has been shared so far can be applied to serve you. This information is intended to help you to understand yourself and find fulfillment. The more you can connect with who you are, the more you will know what comes naturally to you and brings you joy. This awareness can open up more ways to love what you do and find greater joy and meaning in it. I encourage you to grow this awareness and see what happens.
The goal is not to change who you are, but to become more of who you are at your best[vii] – Sally Hogshead
When we are truly present with who, where and what we are, our message can land with the power intended. We shine and fascinate others. The trick is learning who we are and how others perceive us. Sally Hogshead, the author of How the World Sees You, offers a short assessment test based on 10 years of research to aid us in this awareness.[viii] A website link to access this exam is found in the endnotes.
When considering coaching it is also important that you find the “right” coach for where you are at in your life right now, someone you can trust on a deep level to enable you to explore your thoughts, beliefs and values without inhibition. This type of atmosphere can be a conduit of exploration and/or struggle leading to potent discoveries and empowerment.
Over 95% of our actions, reactions and way we view the world is shaped by our subconscious mind. This is comprised of beliefs that are constantly running in the background without being in the awareness of our conscious thoughts as we live each day.[ix] These subconscious beliefs have been collected since conception and have come from so many places, people, experiences, language, feelings, and interpretation of intent from others. These beliefs have shaped this system that runs in the background of our lives without an awakened thought given towards them. Many of these subconscious beliefs are very powerful and if they remain unquestioned or unexplored will continue to shape the way we view the world and provide similar experiences to what we have known for so long. These beliefs can be both supportive and unsupportive. Through coaching they can be explored and brought to the surface, their effect in your life and whether they align with who you are can be examined and you can have the opportunity to keep or take steps to change these beliefs. What gives coaching power is you. You are the driver, you are the explorer, the one to seek, find, build understanding and then empower your potential by choosing what actions to take; determining what supports and aligns with your inner knowing. As a coach my goal is to support you in this process so that you can express more of yourself to the world and live at your best, with aligned integrity.
How does coaching actually work? A coaching session is a place where the coach holds a space that is forward moving, judgment free and all about the client. As a client you determine the agenda and the intentions of what you would like to explore and accomplish. Through intent listening, reflecting what is said back to the client and powerful questions the coach moves along the journey with the client and encourages deeper understanding of what the client holds as their values and how their beliefs, thoughts and actions might align with these. Often this can open the “inner knowing” and build awareness around the level of alignment felt. From my own experience with coaches, this is a deeply powerful experience and as the alignment begins to convey new experiences, perspectives shift in a profound way providing a different way to see the world. The new perspective then provides an opportunity to see the path in front of us with greater clarity, allowing us to act with increased integrity.
Be all you can be!
You don’t need to find the light. You are the light. When you let your personality shine you can light up the world.[x] – Sally Hogshead
True integrity involves knowing who you are, letting your actions align with that inner knowing and being present with it. This is where we find the greatness within, this is where we do what we are born to do, this is where we become who we have felt we always wanted to be. You don’t need to be anything different than who you are, what the world needs is more of you. I invite you to tap into your own inner knowing and build the awareness of who you are so that you can consistently bring your best and express your unique integrity. I invite you to become aware of and then shake off the chains of beliefs that hold you back from being your best and shining at your fullest potential. You have greatness within you, it is your journey to find it, unlock it and share it. My integrity requires me to invite you to take this journey and enhance the world with more of you. I wish you success, surprise, joy and the rich, fulfilling wholeness that can come as you align with your discoveries!
[i] Winfrey, Oprah, Brainy Quotes extracted May 16, 2015
[ii] Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrity extracted May 18, 2015
[iii] Covey, Stephen R., Everyday Greatness, Inspiration for a Meaningful Life, pg 21 extracted May 16, 2015
[iv] Covey, Stephen R., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Free Press NY, NY, 2004 pgs. 19-20
[v] Tolle, Eckhart; extracted May 27, 2015
[vi] Tolle, Eckhart; extracted May 27, 2015
[vii] Hogshead, Sally; extracted May 27, 2015
[viii] Hogshead, Sally; extracted May 27, 2015
[ix] Lipton, Bruce H., The Biology of Belief, HayHouse Publishing, HayHouse.com, 2008
[x] Hogshead, Sally; How the World Sees You, HarperCollins Publishers, 195 Broadway NY, NY, 2014 pg. 13