I am stuck.
There is a path before me, a path built on a personal unifying vision for business and life. The path leads to empowerment and success. But it’s not an easy path. And I know before I can be a useful guide to others I have to walk the path myself.
I see the path, I believe in the path, I want to take the journey. But I don’t. Every day I decide that today is not the day to start down the path.
I am stuck.
That’s not an easy thing for me to admit. I’m a lawyer, I’m a coach, I’m a shaman – I am trained in multiple modalities to help people move forward. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m stuck. To be clear, I’m not embarrassed to tell other people I’m stuck, that kind of admission is a useful tool to get people to trust me or to admire my transparency so that I can accomplish some goal or another, for their benefit or mine. No, it’s embarrassing for me to admit to myself that I’m stuck.
So I’m writing this and publishing this because it’s the only way I know to get myself off my ass. In order to get unstuck I am going to tell people what the path is and that I am going to walk it. And then if I don’t walk it people will know. Which will embarrass me more than it does to admit to myself that I am stuck.
Here we go.
The word “integrity” has at least two meanings. The first, and perhaps best known, is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. The second is the ability to remain whole and undivided under pressure. It’s the second meaning that provides the foundation for my path – structural integrity.
I believe that the pursuit of structural integrity in life will lead to empowerment and success. That is the path.
It’s no secret that we live in an age where everything about our lives is public knowledge. Between our own social media activities and the technologies that track our every move on the internet and in the real world, we can all be reduced down to pretty darn specific and accurate profiles. Ask any Russian hacker.
It stands to reason, then, that if our personal Facebook page contains posts which are inconsistent with our business brand, people will know and business will suffer. Think about the family values politician caught encouraging his mistress to have an abortion and you’ll see what I mean.
So it’s important for our businesses that our entire digital presence have structural integrity. But that’s not what I’m talking about, not really.
What I’m talking about is embracing your own personal value system, and then sticking to that system in your personal life, your business life and your spiritual life. Being the same person in every situation. I’m talking about maintaining structural integrity in your life when no one is looking.
I don’t do that. I’m very different in private than I am in public. I do not have structural integrity in my life.
For example, I tell myself I believe it is important to have a healthy body. I belong to a kick-ass gym where I go 5-6 times a week and sweat bullets using kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells and other equipment. It matters to me that people see me working hard. But then I come home and I get up at 3 am and eat a bag of chips. And then I complain that I just can’t seem to drop any weight.
Using a traditional approach to coaching I would examine my habit of sabotaging my health with late night snacks. The goal would be health, the sabotage would be chips, and the problem would be clear.
Walking the structural integrity path would force me to ask myself different questions. Am I sabotaging my workouts with chips or am I a hedonist who enjoys a good sweat and delicious sweets? If I knew the answer to that question I would probably make better choices overall.
Another example – pretending that I am driven by some moral code has been harmful to my business because it has kept me from being aggressive in developing my book of clients. And then I complain about how hard business development is.
In business I want people to think I have integrity – the moral principal kind of integrity. But that’s not who I really am. I make sure to give my clients good service at good prices because it’s good for business, not because of some moral code. If it suits me or my client I will squash you like a bug and not look back. At my core I believe that the business world is as Darwinian as anything else, that only the fittest survive and that’s a good thing.
Would it be more honest if I approached business the way I approached the gym – work hard, sweat bullets and get noticed for being a beast? Seen through this lens, my decision to brand myself as moral is the equivalent of late night snacking.
Walking the path, I have to ask myself if I am a moral businessman or am I businessman who thinks a moral public image is good for business? Is the simple truth that I believe the moral image makes me one of the fit businesspeople who will survive? Again, if I knew the answer to that question I would probably make better choices overall.
The structural integrity path requires anyone who walks it to abandon their delusions about themselves, their blind spots, and see themselves as they really are. Me, it will probably force me to admit that I’m just not that nice a guy. I’m a competitor, a warrior, a killer. But if I could just let go of needing to pretend to be nice so that I don’t have to feel guilty about achieving material success in an unfair world, chances are I will be much more successful in every area of my life.
Today I start down the path of reinforcing the structural integrity of my personal, business and spiritual lives. And I invite you to come along with me, follow my successes, call me on my rationalizations and generally help figure out how to help other people walk the same path themselves.