TWIL (This Week I Learned)
This week I contemplated integrity. It’s got me thinking.
Listen: “Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.”
Similar to when I contemplated authenticity, my question is: “What if your strict moral or ethical code sucks? What if you are wholly or completely horrid?”
I think I put a similar question to Dr. Brandi Beck, whose clinical focus in on both authenticity and empathy. If I remember correctly, she laughed before answering. Here is what I gleaned for the show notes that week: “Fifth, Authenticity is most likely impossible if you want to be a real asshole :) At the same time, authenticity is not for the nice.”
I think that is the core of what is niggling at me this week as I dive myself into integrity. Is it the same as with authenticity? If you are true to yourself, really, really true to yourself, can you have integrity and be a real asshole?
I just finished reading a lovely book, called “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football” written by John Urschel and Louisa Thomas (his wife). The word that kept coming up for me was integrity. He (especially when younger) wasn’t always authentic. He wanted to “fit in” and didn’t mind conformity. So he did that thing many adolescents do and watched the kids he wanted to be friends with and then joined in with them.
But he always managed to adhere to his own strict moral and ethical code. He managed to follow his compass. Thankfully (?) this compass led him to a career as a mathematician at MIT, who, along the way, also seems to have made the world a better place: not through endless volunteering, or charity, or “good works”. He simply perfected “Be you very well.”
My question is: What is your moral and ethical code? Do you adhere to it strictly?
It’s got me smiling as I write, because what an odd question in our modern world? And what on earth *is* a moral and ethical code, even?
I would like to propose (and yes, I tried, and it worked for me) to free write on this subject (or dance, or bee waggle, or paint, or sing…)
I came away feeling that we’re likely inherently good at our core. I came away feeling like, yeah, it’d be pretty difficult to live a peaceful, authentic life with integrity and still be a right asshole.
See what happens for you.
What happens to your integrity when faced with someone who has a different kind of ethics? Different morals?
I think my old fashioned idea of integrity was rather rigid. What if your integrity is made out of willow and not oak?
Try moving through the week noticing whether it works — What comes up when you are face to face with someone whose moral code differs from yours?
In our modern world, I think (?), that can make integrity tricky. We need integrity with tolerance, integrity with curiosity, integrity with boundaries, integrity with justice.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
Try, if it comes up this week, to push up against the edge of your integrity and get uncomfortable with it. Perhaps do one small thing that challenges you to go face to face with that edge.
Stay in the room with yourself or someone you are very close to when things get uncomfortable.
If you can — with stillness, calm, balance, peace — and see what happens.
9. Hero: John Urschel —Mathematician
Why? I just finished reading the memoir he wrote with his wife. He sums up integrity for me, in the best way. Ha! This newsletter is definitely “The John Urschel Tribute Edition. Who knew?”
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Justice and Integrity episode Thursday (hopefully) with Cam Brewer (I am doing *planning* and it’s getting a bit trixey occasionally lining up newsletter themes with podcast themes — patience.)