Integrity: Beyond Morality

May 22, 2024

Over the past year, I've dedicated myself to studying Integrity. Not from the traditional moral perspective, but as a matter of wholeness and effectiveness. Through the works of Werner Erhard and conversations and inquiries with my mentor Ria Bauhofer, I've come to see Integrity in a new light.

Integrity is often seen as a moral compass guiding us to "do the right thing." However, it's more accurately described as a state of completeness, functioning optimally within its context. In practical terms, when something is "in integrity," it is whole, without compromise. This redefinition shifts the focus from a moral judgment to an evaluation of functionality and wholeness.

When bound to a common understanding of morality, we are limited to the context of morals, which more often than not can shift by simply visiting a different country, changing culture or family; we are always limited to getting it "right" rather than to have it work.

In my work with clients and at our events, issues typically arise when there is a compromise in Integrity. —people doing what is expected of them within societal norms. Integrity involves participating effectively in the systems and communities we are part of: paying taxes, settling bills, obeying traffic laws, and more. It's not just about to do what is considered "good" but doing what works for oneself and the community.

Integrity also involves living in accordance with your personal standards and values. If you value gentleness, then embody that quality in your life. If you cherish connection, actively create relationships. Living contrary to our own principles shows a breach in Integrity.

The third layer would be to be "one with your word". This means aligning your actions with your words and cleaning up after yourself when they do not align. For example, I once committed to doing a challenge for a couple of months but later realised it was not my path. Instead of simply stopping something, I had to have a conversation with myself to acknowledge that I had broken my word and that I am ok with that.

Now the word we love to break is the word to ourselves and we usually dont take time to acknowledge this.

As Werner said in an Interview, "Integrity is a matter of a person's word—nothing more and nothing less. For without Integrity, nothing works. At the heart of Integrity is the consistency of actions and values with one’s word. When you honour your word as yourself, you are being true to your deepest self, and that's when life works."

And there's an even deeper level of Integrity - one that concerns the core of our being. I refer to this as being in Integrity with one's Self, which is not the identity we present to the world, like "Moritz Lembert, Business Coach," but something more fundamental. It is the essence from which our identities emerge, the space within which life unfolds.

As I discussed last week with respect to Zen philosophy, there's a profound integrity in trusting one’s own nature. Most compromises of Integrity arise not because we fail to keep our promises or live up to our standards, but because we have a deep distrust of our own nature and our capacity to act according to it.

An ancient philosopher once said, "Know yourself, and to your own self be true." This statement captures the essence of profound Integrity—knowing and being true to ourselves and that Self not merely being the ideas we picked up along the way.

The state of wholeness is a state of alignment; a state in which we don't oppose ourself through disregarding, overlooking or not taking seriously our own self. Profound integrity is built on the ground of being and your personality, your role in life aligning with that realisation that who you are in essence is the building material of what we commonly call ourself which therefore leaves you wholly responsible for all of it, as you take the place of owning what you have built, what you say, and your actions.

Being a person of integrity is the opportunity to trust yourself/life completely which does not mean to never make a mess, yet to happily clean it up, as you are the one who created it as all of what you do and say is considered as self and the idea of their being two has ceased to exist.

Consider where in your life you might be compromising your Integrity by compromising what's true for you. What steps can you take today to bring yourself back into alignment with you? What did you fail to acknowledge to yourself? The promises we most like to break are to ourself. Reflect on these questions, and perhaps share your thoughts in an email back to me.

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