It was a beautiful spring day in March 2012, when I sat on a cool stone bench tucked in the Spruce Plot of the beautiful Morton Arboretum in Lisle IL. In my hands, I held a worn brown leather portfolio that contained only a blank pad of lined paper and a pen. In my head, heart and soul, I held one simple idea: The “I” in ROI had to be redefined. And with that, I began to scribble down some raw thoughts of which would become the first steps on a long journey into the depths of integrity.

The concept was clear in my mind. The path in front of me, not so much. Hundreds of conversations following the publication of my second book, GOOD to the CORE, had reinforced how woefully unexplored were the depths of core values. While I had no intention to write another book, it seemed the time was right.

Truthfully, I wanted to ignore that undeniable nudge.

I had summoned myself to this stone bench for inspiration. I had been introduced to the Spruce Plot by two of my dearest friends. It had become a special place that I would only later discover the Morton Arboretum had nicknamed, “The Unintended Cathedral.”

I established what seemed to be a very reasonable one-year timeline to complete the manuscript of this work. It was a timeline that fit the other demands on my schedule. What it didn’t fit were the twists and turns of insightful questions, fearful roadblocks, and unintended assumptions that would surface in my mind and in hundreds more of those thought-provoking conversations to follow. It’s a good thing that I was unaware that Return On Integrity wouldn’t publish until four years later.

I would have quit.

I would have stood-up from that bench and taken a different path. Somehow, a short-cut out of there. But I didn’t know … and didn’t quit. As I sat there, I scribbled what eventually would become the “opening thoughts” for the book. Almost word for word. An hour later I stood up and began blindly walking the first steps of an endless path with my eyes wide-open.

The four years that followed would teach me a lot about this redefined “I” of integrity. But most importantly, it would teach me that there was no end to a path I seemed to want to finish. The publication of Return On Integrity would prove to be just a moment in time. Each mirage of a finish line was only proving to be the beginning of an endless invitation to keep going. As the pathway continued, so did those thoughtful conversations of insightful questions, fearful roadblocks and unintended assumptions.

And so, I kept digging …

… only to unearth that sometimes your path brings you right back to where you started. Not to begin again, yet rather to allow you to experience your starting point in a completely different way.

In late March, five years after sitting on that stone bench, I would find myself sitting in front of my computer screen typing another issue of my DIG DEEP newsletter. Unexpectedly, it hit me … to reach the never-ending depths of integrity, sometimes you must put down your shovel and go sit and reflect for a while. The thought felt offensive to the passion I had embraced for shovels and digging. I grabbed a copy of Return and Integrity and starting flipping pages only to land on page 230 where I revisited my own words on the importance of silence. I recalled the conviction and sadness I simultaneously felt in typing the final issue of my continuously running 13-year monthly newsletter titled, The Front Porch. That final issue confidently proclaimed that at some point you must get off the porch and start digging!

That is true. Yet, is also true, that the treasures you find in your digging are only made valuable by the simultaneous process of holding them in insightful reflection to see what they eventually reveal. And where better to do that than on …

The Front Porch.

And so, on the last Thursday of September, The Front Porch will return. Yet, more than a place to sit and ponder … I hope you may very well find it to be the place you can dig your deepest.

Stay tuned for more announcements on a whole new newsletter and blog experience designed specifically to continually equip those who want to immerse themselves in an ever-deeper essence of integrity.

If you recall a memory of The Front Porch newsletters (or sitting on any front porch!) please pause and share below!