Alright, here we go. You said you were going to do something and you didn’t do it. No big deal, right? You can make up for it. You didn’t feel like doing it at the time, and life’s too short to do things you don’t want to do. Besides, you spent the time doing something more productive. Probably yoga. Or spending time with your family or friends. Anyone who tells you that you shouldn’t have done that is just an asshole. You need to have balance, after all.
Only problem is, you just took a little piece of your integrity and threw it in the trash.
For the sake of this article, let’s define integrity as one’s tendency to do what they say they’re going to do, when they say they’re going to do it. Simple as that.
Think of your integrity like a big, solid stone. Firm and unmoving. Like a rock, your integrity has weight to it. When you say you’re going to do something, you really mean it. Then one day, someone (read: you) comes along with a pick axe and takes a swing. A piece of your rock flies off into the distance and suddenly, your word has a little less weight to it. Over time, you swing more and more, until eventually there’s nothing left. Your word officially means sh*t. You say you’re going to do something, but inside, you already know it will never get done. This is powerlessness, and you did it to yourself.
Now, the bright side to all of this is that piece by piece, you can always – at any point in time – go and pick up the pieces of your stone and place them back together. The downside is that there are no shortcuts. You can’t hire someone else to pick up the pieces. You can’t go get the stone back in one fell swoop and put it all back neatly in it’s place. You can only restore your integrity one commitment at a time.
Bottom line: STOP MESSING AROUND WITH YOUR INTEGRITY. IF YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL, YOU NEED TO STOP SWINGING THE AXE.
If there’s one common thread I’ve seen that sews together all of the most successful people I surround myself with and have the privilege of coaching and being coached by, it’s that they do what they say they’re going to do. End of story. No excuses, no exceptions. Want to or not, they just do it. (Nike might be onto something there)
The benefit of living in integrity is simple, the heavier your rock, the more it pulls you down the hill. Just pause for a moment and consider what it would be like to know yourself as someone who does what they say they’re going to do 100% of the time – no matter what. When that’s the type of person you see staring back at you in the mirror each day, your goals are as good as done the moment you give your word to them. Your word carries so much weight, that it actually pulls you towards your goals without any additional effort. You simply know that when you give your word to something, you’ll find a way to get it done no matter what gets in your way. This is powerful, and you created it.
The challenge that most people face is that it’s so easy to go back on your word and it always will be. Most people fail to see the impact of taking a swing at their integrity. Excuses like “I don’t want to”, “Something came up”, “I forgot”, or “I can make up for it” rob people of their power. All of your excuses are bullish*t and you need to come to terms with that fact. As long as you avoid responsibility you’ll be putting yourself in a position of powerlessness.
The real truth is that you had a choice. Black and white, clear as day, you always have a choice, and you chose not to do what you said you would do. Sometimes that’s a valid choice. Sometimes a loved one is sick and needs your help. Sometimes you’re playing such a big game in life that you simply can’t do it all. In those rare situations, the best you can do is to acknowledge your miss, communicate with those who are impacted by it, and put a system in place to minimize the impact and ensure it doesn’t happen again. As for the other 9 out of 10 times – you need to cut that sh*t out. The catch with integrity is that it doesn’t allow for exceptions. Want to or not, you just have to do what you say. You have to be your word. In the beginning, this will often be challenging, as you’ll likely give your word to things that later you won’t feel like doing. If you choose to renege and not do those things, you’ll only ever relate to yourself as someone who does what they say they’re going to do almost all the time. Almost. The difference between almost and always is absolutely monstrous.
Now, some people will read this article and think to themselves “I really ought to be much more careful with what I give my word to.” Setting the bar low is not the message I’m trying to get across here. In fact, its quite the opposite. The real power that you gain by following this simple practice is the ability to give your word to something when you have absolutely no idea whatsoever how on earth you’re going to do it. Real power is being pulled towards your goals without needing to know how you’re going to reach them.
Now get out there and be your word.
Ready, set, action.