A Practice of Integrity and Effectiveness: More Consciousness about Consciousness

Integrity is an evolutionary quality.
Marc Gafni
 
The classic definitions of integrity start with honesty and moral uprightness, followed by definitions about being whole and undivided. I particularly like Barbara Killinger’s definition: “Integrity is a personal choice, an uncompromising and predictably consistent commitment to honour moral, ethical, spiritual and artistic values and principles.”
 
It is no surprise, then, that there is a power in integrity, a power that you might expect from an evolutionary quality that is an uncompromising commitment to values and principles. That power, when harnessed, can radically transform a person’s effectiveness. 
 
Here is the tiniest example in the form of a radically simple practice to be shared with a person who, like you, wants to explore the power of integrity as a means to personal effectiveness.
 
Each morning, after you’ve had time to get your feet on the ground, spend a few minutes gathering up a list of things to which you are willing to commit to create that day. This is not a “to do list”. This is a “promise to create list.” There’s a difference, so be careful with language.
 
Then, take that list into a morning conversation with your practice partner. Then, spend the next 10 minutes as follows:
  • Partner 1: “Of the things you committed to create yesterday, which ones did you actually create?”
  • Partner 2: Answers the question.
  • Partner 1: “What do you commit to create today?”
  • Partner 2: Answers the question.
  • Partner 2: “Of the things you committed to create yesterday, which ones did you actually create?”
  • Partner 1: Answers the question.
  • Partner 2: “What do you commit to create today?”
  • Partner 1: Answers the question.
  • Partners 1 and 2: Get on with their respective days of creation.
Make sure you not only record each day’s commitments, but also your record of honoring your commitments. No need to develop a fancy scoring system around this — just be prepared each day to answer these questions posed by your practice partner. 
 
Here's the kicker: Promise to do it without fail for at least 30 days, and preferably 90 days.
 
If you notice, over time, that you struggle to keep your commitments, ask, in each case, “what was more important than keeping my promise? What is more important than my integrity?” You might even want to journal on this topic. 
 
This is a powerful practice on so many levels that it would take a good bit of writing to capture all the reasons it works. At the heart of why I think it works is that it is in the category of practices I call “consciousness about consciousness.” By lowering the waterline on my integrity so I can see how it operates (or not), I can also see the sometimes-unconscious integrity traps that erode my capacity to function effectively in all aspects of my life. By laying bare these aspects of my own consciousness, my natural yearning to be whole, to be effective, to live in integrity, kicks in and starts to shape my behavior. 
 
The formula, then, for this sort of practice is this: expose your own consciousness to your consciousness, marry it to a profound yearning to be whole, and let the magic happen. 
 
As the Indian mystic poet Kabir noted, the yearning does all the work.
 
Tom Goddard, December 3, 2013