Monday, March 30, 2009


So I have been doing an experiment.

This is for my brother Adrian, but really for me. Adrian is one of the most self-motivated people that I know. Currently he is working on an experiment about living with age-old virtues.

So here is the challenge that I have taken, and the pursuant experiment. For a year take up the cause of improving upon your virtues. Each month has a virtue associated with it and I personally challenge myself to live with that virtue as I understand it. I wear a wristband to remind me of that virtue and to talk with people who ask me about it. So this is the end of the first month. The month of INTEGRITY.

What a roast on me, huh? I mean I try to live with some integrity, but to proclaim myself as any kind of expert on the matter is cringe-inducing at best, hypocrisy at worst. But I want to be a better person and took up the challenge (even though I am not a bracelet-kind-of-guy).

What does Integrity mean? The Latin INTEGRITAS had something to do with being whole, or wholly united. I think of it as being "the same throughout". For me it has to do with a certain type of internal honesty and resistance to relativistic thinking.

My personal challenge consisted of a broad challenge, "Living with more integrity" and a specific challenge "To be unwilling to criticize anyone without being willing to offer the critique to them first." Yeah, really kind of me to be willing to criticize more. My thought though was that it would reduce criticism, especially backbiting and open opportunities for dialogue. To be the same in front of people as when they weren't there.

I found this challenge pushed me, pushed me to overcome resistance to confrontation, but I also had to bite my tongue a little more. Timing, when it comes to criticism it seems every bit as important as what is actually said. If an employee can and will correct behavior, no one else needs to know about it. If there is a family issue that needs to be discussed, talking about it with the person in-question accomplishes something. Whining about it to everyone else builds greater distrust. I don't want to use specifics from this challenge, because most of the conversations that ensued were great, but private, and by having more integrity I was able to keep my gripes that way.

So the month went fairly well, But I think I could use a year or two more working on this virtue. I am kind of proud of one story. i have that new phone, the one that people are talking about as a life-changing phone (it isn't, it's just a phone, but more computery). I had an extended warranty and the software started to act goofy. I was going to take it in, but I dropped it in some water and quickly pulled it out of the water. Over the next few days the software issue got worse.

So what do I do? The software problem was totally legit and should be covered, but I also did this bad warranty-voidable thing? As I pulled up to the minimalist store I had this debate in my head. How much do I really need to tell this guy to get my phone fixed? Is omission honest? Perhaps it is, but I thought it lacked integrity, so I tugged on my wristband and walked in. Some genius was signed up to help me and I decided to tell the whole story. To neither embellish nor to apologize, but to tell it like it is.

Unbeknown* to me the phone has a little moisture detector inside. I hadn't tripped the detector and I was in the clear and got a new phone. Now if I had lied, and the detector had been tripped, I wouldn't have a replacement phone, and this guy and I would both think I was a liar (which I try not to be). If I had told the truth and the detector had been tripped, the result would have been the same, but both the genius and I would have known that I told the truth.

In the end the "integrity" didn't win me a new phone. But I did win something. I proved to myself that I could be honest when it is easier not to be. This other guy saw it too. How much is your reputation worth? Certainly more than the price of a phone.

Oh yeah, this is how that story ends. The next day the phone fell out of my shirt pocket and cracked the screen. The software works just fine though, so it looks like I will be paying for my next phone upgrade.

*really that's a word?


Kim Raynor said...

Hmm. I like you.

Lee said...

So, I guess integrity isn't being truthful, it is being truthful all the time, or wholly.

Good luck with this.