Applying Integrity

It’s really easy to say that leadership without integrity is not leadership at all but it’s true. With integrity, there’s very little that you can’t accomplish. Without it, there’s very little that you can…for very long.

It is quite easy to state the importance of integrity. But it’s a lot harder to live with integrity and to be known as a leader who not only talks the path, but walks the path. These individuals are rare.

I have seen no better understanding of applicable integrity than the work done by Ron Smotherman, M.D., in a book entitled, “Transforming #1.” At the time that I came across his work in the early 1980’s, I had chosen a path of integrity and had dedicated myself to a life of self-awareness and growth. I was about 30 years old (I am 66 today) and I thought I had integrity…until I read his book. According to Smotherman’s descriptions, I did not have integrity. And I wanted it.

His platform of applicable integrity was the central foundation of MindSpring when we started the company in 1993 and remains the foundation of MindSpring today. His work would deeply affect me because I realized that without integrity, you’re just talking. There are too many teachers who have not learned what they teach and I was not going to be one of them.

In his book, Smotherman lays out for the reader 10 stages of integrity. The bottom of the barrel is a condition he calls “disloyalty.” It is a condition that is at the heart of the world of politics because politics and truth don’t mix. Politicians can’t tell the truth because it’s too dangerous and in many cases, the result is prison. But disloyalty is everywhere else, too. But I’m not concerned about everywhere else and neither should you be. You should be concerned about you, your growth and development, and the quality of your leadership. The questions are: Do you walk the path? Do you have integrity?

I eventually came upon an intersection in my life where Smotherman’s work would be the very anchor of a decision that would change my life forever, to having and living a life of which I could not even dream. But it hinged upon whether or not I had the courage to make a particular decision. As the years passed by, I had the lived experience of what Smotherman described and I knew what he said to be true. His work would change my life.

Integrity is the condition of being whole and complete, needing nothing from anybody or anything to be OK. But until you reach that condition, you will compromise yourself and your integrity in order to get those things outside of you that you cannot find inside of you. And in doing so, your leadership is weakened,blinded and eventually destroyed.

In upcoming blogs, I will talk about Smotherman’s stages of integrity and how you can apply this transformational information to your leadership, your life, your relationships, and your dreams.