Return on Integrity Discover the Groundbreaking Nature of ROI Thu, 05 Sep 2019 12:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Return on Integrity 32 32 Right Here. Right Now. Thu, 05 Sep 2019 12:00:58 +0000 I still remember the night I first heard Pete play the piano. What was most memorable, that night, was how much he sounded like my favorite group, Chicago, whenever he played any of their music. The following week, I would find out the reason – he was the pianist in the origins of the group, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). In the years to follow, Pete would become a most gracious mentor for me in my career at Arthur Andersen.

One of my all-time favorites of the CTA, was Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? In writing this article and reminiscing about this song, I stumbled upon this most heart-felt and energized rendition of a cover band playing it a half-century later in Kiev, Ukraine. It was a song about time that has stood the test of time … and was possibly even prophetic a half-century before its time. In so many ways, time is an illusion. Yet, time recently played its hand again in a planning call with my friend Andy.

Andy does a lot of meaningful and substantive work helping people connect to their true purpose. Recently, we were deep into a conversation on the nuances between one’s purpose and one’s integrity. While we knew they were different, it was fun to explore the systemic relationship between them.

As we gave each other a lot of grace in brainstorming possible insights that connected the two, an idea surfaced around one of the great treasures of one knowing their true purpose:  an inspiring aspiration and guide from here to there – now to then. As Andy expanded on it, I felt a sense of sequence and a passage of time. I had an image in my mind that “purpose” takes you places. It creates. It expands. My soul felt motion and momentum.

As I was feeling the building energy of purpose, I slammed into a stand-still realization about integrity. It has no motion, no ground coverage, no then or there. It only has connection.

In just one place. This present moment.

As a state of being, integrity is not an object that you have or hold. Integrity is a state of integrated connection that exists moment-to-moment in our ever-changing contextual landscape. You might think of your experience of integrity more like tuning a radio dial on a long two-lane road trip rather than mindlessly expecting seamless cell tower connection speeding down an 8-lane freeway.

It’s not that we have integrity, or we don’t. There are no haves and have-nots. There are simply those who are tuned-in or tuned-out. Well-defined core values are like your stations. The signal is always picked-up right where you are — in this present moment. Ten miles up the road or 10-miles back are irrelevant to being tuned-in right here, right now. Integrity’s value is found right where you are. Every moment.  Every day.

So, maybe it really doesn’t matter what time it is.

Until my planning call with Andy, I’m not sure I had ever noticed that integrity stands so still in a world that moves so fast. As a state of being, it is simply how integrity works – keeping you right where you belong.

In the days following our call, I pulled together this 40-second clip for social media posts. I hope it will inspire you and remind you, that when it comes to integrity, the only time we really need to care about is right where we are. CLICK HERE and enjoy.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments, thoughts and insights below.

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Literally Metaphorical Thu, 01 Aug 2019 12:00:34 +0000 Recently, I’ve been wondering about the quandary of what we perceive to be literal. You know – the exact, the precise, the certain. It might be more accurate to say that I’ve been pondering the literal since literal leaves little room for wonder. I must confess that when you start to literally wonder about the literal, it takes you on quite a vague journey.

Figuratively speaking, some things may literally be literal. For instance, you need to literally stop at a red traffic light. Yet, at the same time, the sun doesn’t literally “rise” and “set” each and every day. It just seems like it does. But then again, on a cloudy day, it seems like it doesn’t. While the red light is literal, our experience of the sun is metaphorical. The sun isn’t rising or setting – it simply is brilliantly shining.

At times, in trying to prove a point, we may conveniently use literal, possibly overuse it or sometimes even abuse it. Our ego makes a lovely home for all our literal certainty. As do our emotions – after all, it feels so good to be right. Right? The illusion of the predictable feels pretty good too.

That which we perceive to be literal has a relational impact as well. It tends to draw those with your same literal certainty. It would seem that literal consensus lays the foundation for relational connection. After all, communities and tribes are sometimes formed by such.

Yet, then again, so are cults.

What if our illusion of literal be held accountable to the possible walls of bias, prejudice, exclusion and judgement? The limits of the literal may be one of the great prices we pay to feed a “healthy” ego. I wish I could get a refund for each of the times I thought I had something (or someone) literally figured-out. Maybe you do too. Yet, I have rarely traced it to the trap of knowingly or unknowingly trying to be too literal.

I’m not so sure we literally believe all that we claim to be literal. We just think we do. Literal makes a wonderful salve to nurture our fears and related illusion of control. Sometimes we construct the literal in our natural longing for truth. And in doing so, we confuse the two.

Literal and truth are not the same thing.

When the metaphorical evolves to a perception of literal it can move us from a light frost to a deep-frozen state of mind. While it may bring the comfort of a momentary sense of clarity, it can also bring a halt to creation. On the other hand, it seems that truth is born in stillness and moves into a flow – continuing to creatively show-up in many places in a number of ways. Rather than a finish line, truth continually offers a fresh new beginning — unlatching the leash that the literal holds around us. As we are searching for the literal, the truth is searching for us. In so many ways, the literal blinds us to the truth ever present around us. While the literal is experienced in just one way — truth shows-up in a variety of ways.

Our perception of the literal can take us through a field of illusion marching us toward our desired conclusion. On the other hand, truth invites us to the unfamiliar and the unknown – delightfully lifting us to a state of wonder. While the literal makes us feel smarter – the truth invites us to be wiser. In so many ways, metaphors lead us to truth, while our perception of the literal leads us away from truth.

If we let go of our love of the literal, truth could teach us to love.

When you really think about it, at any single given point in time, one person’s sunrise is another person’s sunset. This is true anywhere, at any time, and always. At the same time, neither the sunrise nor the sunset is actually literal. Yet, as an experience, both are true. Very true. While I know this analysis may seem oversimplified, amazing things could happen if we only realized how this truth played-out in so many other day-to-day real-life scenarios. Just imagine what depths of understanding could be built around a planet, throughout a nation, across a boardroom table, between the silos of the departments of an organization. within a family, and right into the depths of our own core.

What sunrise or sunset are you holding too literally? As always, I would love to hear your insights below!

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Shoulda Coulda Woulda Thu, 04 Jul 2019 12:00:33 +0000  

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

It’s an old mantra that in so many ways mocks a sense of truth from a number of dimensions: shoulda-coulda-woulda. It seems, most often, this old saying has been used to shine a light on needless regrets of what I should have done, could have done or would have done. It holds the rhythm of a yeah, yeah, yeah or more likely a blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Filled with hot-air, empty promises, or even hopeful delusion.

A different form of these words is each used to anticipate the future. What should you do? What could you do? What would you do? This is the basis of a lot of ethics training. It can certainly stir some thinking and possibly plant a few treasures to be mined in the event of an actual future ethical dilemma. Yet my long-ago historical experience in behavioral interviewing gives little credence to what someone anticipates their behaviors would be in a reality they have never experienced. It is why we specifically trained our interviewers to never ask these anticipatory questions and gave no credit to the answers they obtained when they did so.

They make for well-intended distractions.

This past week, in a meaningful conversation, the dialogue evolved into a reminder of the great risk that organizations face when the real truth isn’t put on the table. In some cases, it is referred to as the “elephant in the room.” Yet the “elephant in the room” refers to what everyone is fully aware-of, but no one is talking about. The greater risk is what is in plain sight, but no one is willing to see.

An Inconvenient Truth was a 2006 movie directed by Davis Guggenheim about Global Warming. While its style may have been too documentary for main-stream movie theatres, the film’s very title taught a very powerful truth about … well, truth.

The truth can be very inconvenient.

Or at least it can feel that way. And in most cases the dawning of truth usually is inconvenient in the short term – for it often invites you to a change. A change in awareness, a change in thinking, a change in behavior. It may invite you to a “giving-up” or “giving-in.” Change can be very hard when it’s headed toward truth – and very easy when it is not.

I’m not talking about our conveniences parading-around as truth. I’m talking about the kind of truth that is worthy of the wisdom so thoughtfully proclaimed by a great many thinkers and mystics – if it is true anywhere, it is true everywhere. Truth seems to be more introverted than extroverted. You can pretty much expect that the more hype you see, the less truth is being revealed. Truth seems to be more of a quiet invitation that ultimately has its say.

Instead of pontificating and boasting our shoulda-coulda-wouldas in meetings where we are looking for all the “right” answers, what if we started every meeting consciously and intentionally looking for truth. No matter what the conversation, the challenge, the obstacle, the risk or the opportunity – you can always count on one thing:

The truth is there, inviting you to discover it.

That truth won’t be flashy, glittery or sexy. And in today’s world, there-in lies the problem. As Walter J. Cizek, puts it, “The terrible thing about all divine truth, indeed, is its simplicity … all can be simply stated. And yet how curious it is that this very simplicity makes them so unacceptable to the wise and the proud and the sophisticated of this world.” Walter has every reason to know this truth about truth. As a Jesuit priest spending over four years in solitary confinement and 15 years in the work camps of Siberia, he had plenty of time and experience to honestly discover it and accept it.

Truth may be simple. Yet when you are truly searching for it, you will always find it to be intriguing.

Who knows? It may have been the very reason back-in-the-day that porches were originally put on the front of houses. They make for the perfect place to sit, wonder and eventually accept truth’s invitation. It seems like every organization could use a front porch. For no executive — regardless of their sophistication, or any organization — regardless of their innovation, is exempt from truth. For if truth is everywhere, there is always more of the same truth quietly waiting to be discovered in new ways. Indeed, truth is the pavement on the road to integrity.

As always, I’d love for you to share your thoughts below!

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Sight or Insight Thu, 06 Jun 2019 12:15:46 +0000 Sometimes a simple comment from an unsuspecting source in an unplanned location reveals an eye-opening reminder. The combination of all three may be what makes it immediately apparent and so memorable.

I was recently at one of my favorite regular destinations, The Morton Arboretum, with my wife Cindy. We were aimlessly walking the trails noticing this summer’s new display of nature designs made of Legos. Along the way, we decided to make the climb up the hill to revisit Joe the Guardian, one of the creative wooden trolls that remain from last summer’s display. This particular troll stands tall keeping watch on top of the massive earth berm that separates the serene arboretum from the bustling tollway that runs along the arboretum’s south side. Drivers along the tollway, without distraction, would have a hard time missing this 25-foot troll. While it is fun to see it from the tollway, standing directly underneath this troll puts his size in perspective.

It is worth the climb.

Like many places in the Midwest, spring rains have been overly abundant. As we were descending the climb, a grandfather with his 6-year-old granddaughter was in front of us. A father and his small son were coming toward us on the path. Without prompting, the grandfather called-out to the oncoming dad, “Just want to let you know there is a lot of mud on the path ahead.” The grandfather’s tone delivered an unspoken warning of a problem that read … turn-around and go back!

Yet, there was no time to absorb the warning. His little granddaughter in her sweet high-pitched voice immediately tagged-on, “It’s not a problem. You just go around it.” The confidence in her voice would have only allowed a fool to turn around. Both of them were factually correct. Yet, one closed the gate.

The other one opened it.

Noticing obstacles or problems, in itself, is not a bad thing. Sometimes it is necessary but can be limiting – especially if we let the problem define the moment. As we walked around their conversation and continued along the path, I looked at Cindy and simply said, “I guess some see obstacles and others see opportunities.

I continued hearing the little girl’s voice, in my mind, as we walked along. If the full truth be known, this little girl would have likely not gone around the mud at all. The pep in her voice gave-away a more playful scenario – just take off your shoes and socks and walk right through the mud. No doubt, given her own choice, she would have allowed her little toes to sink into the mud’s squishy goo while loving every moment of it.

While some would see the mud as an obstacle, others would see the mud in itself as an opportunity. It is precisely what I see when an individual begins to dig for their core values. I have often said that your own experience of wrestling in the mud of your own journey of discovery is as revealing as the values you discover along the way.

The mud can be difficult.

I think it is part of the reason most never get to their core. The one comment I’ve heard more often than any other is this – this is really hard. A few keep going in spite of the mud. The rest give warning to others just starting to dig — turn around and go back. Some stop in their tracks. After all, Joe the Guardian looms largely from the top of the earth berm. You can see it from where you are at the bottom. Why bother to climb? Or dig? This may make for a perfect metaphor for simply picking your core values from a list of paper. It is a good data point. A starting point. Yet, never the replacement for going deeper.

Standing at the foot of Joe the Guardian, then looking-up, gives you a whole different perspective. It certainly gives you a different point of view. So does digging through the dirt, mud and rock deep into your own core values. There is just something about where you see things from. It’s the difference between obstacle and opportunity – between problem and possibility. It is also the difference between sight and insight. In each case, it usually is a little bit of both.

And, if you get stuck? It’s not a problem. Just go around it. – or maybe even right through it.

As always, I’d love for you to share your thoughts below!

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Calculating Division Thu, 02 May 2019 12:00:41 +0000 In my early days of school, I never was the biggest fan of the so-called long-division. I don’t even know if they still teach long-division with those gridded layouts built as you work your way down through the problem.  A calculator gets you there much faster.  Yet, either way, you end-up with less than you started with. I was a much bigger fan of multiplication.

I’m still not a fan of division, yet we sure see a lot of it. Not in a math class, but in this class of life. It must have an irresistible tug.  Like gossip, it can initially feel good and paradoxically has its own way of multiplying.

And like long-division, the end result is less.

While there is likely a poetic angle to the cost of division, I’m certain a mathematical formula could prove a staggering sum representing the cost we pay for a conscious or unconscious addiction to division.

This cost of division can show-up in every arena of our life: politics, business, religion, education and intellectual discussions — along with relationships in most any context. While this cost of division can present itself in terms of wasted resources, it can also show up in far more destructive ways in the lack of progress, the suffering we cause others and the damage we invoke on our own state of being.

There are exceptions to most everything. For instance, division of cells are critical to life.  Yet, even there, the run-away division of cells leads to cancer. Often, we search for such exceptions to justify rather than understand the divisions we create.

I have certainly been drawn into division along my own journey.  Other times I have created it. I would guess we all have.  But rarely, if ever, do we stop and count the cost of division.

If we did stop, we might divide less.

On this beautiful planet, it is mind-numbing to think of the senseless cost we have created by division. It’s hard to deny the cost on the macro scale of war, race, religion and gender. Seeing the cost alone, likely isn’t enough to deter further division.  Painful loss in plain view hasn’t seemed to stop us in the past. And it continues in the present. Perhaps understanding the cause would be more insightful and more productive.  Yet, it’s much tougher to understand the cause of division on the macro scale. It’s complex and likely the systemic outflow of many unrelated inputs.

Understanding our individual draw to division is difficult enough. I’m sure this seduction is a complex psychological dynamic that few of us are capable of fully understanding. At the same time, two aspects may give us plenty to consider – fear and ego.  How much division is created by a lack of understanding?  Often, what we don’t understand, we tend to fear at some level.  And our ego wants to rationalize, categorize and control what we don’t understand.

The seeds of division always germinate at the individual level, subsequently multiplying one individual at a time – eventually at an exponential rate. Division can only end in the same way it begins – individually. Ironically, when we individually respond, we ignite the possibility of collective multiplication.

Recently, one specific definition of “division” caught my attention – separating a whole into parts.  As I furthered my work on integrity, the most comprehensive definition of integrity I could find was held together in one word: whole. This might lead one to believe that division is the enemy of integrity.  Yet, by definition, integrity has no enemy.

Integrity is a pathway to restore what is divided.

Individually, integrity depends on a connection to our core. Not our opinions and beliefs that fuel division, but rather our core that makes us individually and collectively whole. Core values don’t divide. That alone may be the most universally defining characteristic of a core value (see the April 2017 issue of The Front Porch). Behaviors, wants, needs, opinions and beliefs — especially those not grounded in an understanding of our own core values – have a high potential of creating division.

Recently, I saw an insightful meme posted on social media.  Above the picture of the most beautiful innocent newborn, it simply said:  This is a baby.  He doesn’t judge.  He doesn’t hate anyone.  He is not a racist or prejudice.  Please don’t teach him to be. It was a refreshing insight on a medium that can so easily do just the opposite.

Division has its place in a math class. Yet, beyond the math, maybe the greatest lesson we should have taken away is this: it always results in less than the whole.  That, in itself, lacks integrity.

What division do you currently struggle with?  What might be a good first step in crossing over the divide?

As always, I’d love for you to share your thoughts below!

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Fool’s Gold Thu, 04 Apr 2019 12:00:02 +0000 I have never been a big fan of April Fool’s Day for one simple reason. Yep, you guessed it. I most always seem to forget and fall for the foolishness! This year was no exception. I have some friends that live for their intentional annual creative misdirects. And then there are those who create them each and every day. Knowingly – or unknowingly.

With a quick click to the dictionary, one would find that a “fool” is a person who lacks judgment or sense. While that may be true, it might raise the question as to what causes that “lack” to exist. I think a more complete definition would proclaim that a fool simply lacks awareness. That, in fact, could be applicable to the one making the fool – as well as the one being a fool.

In so many ways, they are one in the same.

Awareness has the potential to unleash everything. Yet, we must first be willing to unleash awareness. I would suggest that this unleashing is both a decision and a process. It is a metaphorical combination of both letting go and of opening our eyes. You will find that in doing both, that one will serve the other.

During the first of my eventual three retinal detachments, I realized it’s amazing what you will see when you are forced to keep your eyes closed for several days in a row. I realize that awareness and metaphors can sound vague and soft in a “get-it-done-now” kind of world. At the same time, one could wonder if a “get-it-done-now” kind of world can lead to a lot of foolishness and eventually a world of fools.

In most any arena, great disruptions aren’t inspired by those who are speeding to get it all done. These disruptions are created by those who step back from all the chaos to unleash a creation born from their sense of awareness. Those who think awareness is complete foolishness in the world of business, are often the fools who are eventually left behind.

At some level, we are all fools. Stupid in our areas of unawareness – and ironically found most often in the areas where we feel most certain. I find that in my own work every day.

Paradoxically, awareness is found through the gift of uncertainty.

Uncertainty opens the door to wonder — and wonder diminishes the resistance, we unknowing hold, to awareness.

I was recently listening to an audio book by one of my favorites, Jim Finley. He was sharing a conversation he was having with Sister Macrina Wiederkehr (author of A Tree Full of Angels) about certainty.  From their dialogue, Jim shared three wonderful insights from Macrina:

  • The things that I used to be certain of, I’m no longer certain of.
  • The things I used to be certain of, that I’m still certain of, I am no longer certain of — in the way I used to be certain of them
  • And, although I can’t be certain, I can be fairly certain that this is not going to stop.

Ironically, in a foolish world, the ones who experience the most awareness — are the ones who are most likely to be called the fools. It appears the world we live in has a way of playing its own April Fools’ joke on the unaware.

What “certainty” have you held, from which you have experienced a freedom in letting go? What foolish “certainty” may you still be grasping?

As always, I’d love for you to share your thoughts below!

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The Lure of Illusion Thu, 07 Mar 2019 13:00:13 +0000 This past weekend, I was in Las Vegas to deliver a presentation. You can’t go to Vegas without adding a little time for play. So, on Sunday I took in my second NHL Vegas Knights hockey game and, with a couple hours to spare, we took a long walk down the Strip enjoying the perfect late afternoon weather. As we strolled along with the variety of humanity filling the sidewalks, it was impossible to miss the massive sign touting grand illusionist David Copperfield’s show at the MGM Grand.

Professionally and commercially, David is a run-away success. Some stats note that he has sold 33 million tickets and grossed over $4 billion noting that is more than any other solo entertainer in history. Now, these statistics are from the internet so they may have their own sense of illusion, but I think you get the picture. In 2015, Forbes noted Copperfield’s annual earnings at $63 million and the 20th highest-earning celebrity in the world. Of course, we also know that the Forbes’ list has been vulnerable to some illusion itself.

The truth is that we are seduced by the lure of illusion.

David Copperfield doesn’t need to misrepresent himself. He tells you the truth – he is an illusionist. He doesn’t misrepresent his work because he knows how much you want to believe what you are seeing. And he is a master at making it easy for you to do so.

It is certainly entertaining. At the same time, it is quite telling. I would suggest our lure of illusion doesn’t stay in Vegas. Unknowing illusionists find stages in every kind of institution – corporations, governments, not-for-profit, education and churches alike. I don’t know about you, but over the years I have found an illusionist looking right at me from my own bathroom mirror.

Many a business book has educated us in some way or another on building our personal brand — intentionally creating an image that in a lot of cases is an illusion. Illusions seem to commercially work. After all, just as David Copperfield. The difference is that Copperfield is truthful about the illusion he creates.

You would think we would be drawn to truth.

Yet, often we avoid it. Maybe because we are afraid of it — or afraid of the consequences of the judgement by others because of it. Or even worse, maybe because we have lost touch with truth while stumbling around drunk on the toxic concoction of illusion. Most often, it isn’t so obvious.

I’ve seen this in subtle ways in my work on personal and organizational core values.  It is our addiction to the potential illusion of behaviors. Don’t get me wrong. Behaviors are important – yet they are most effective when presenting themselves simply as an expression of a known truth that resides much deeper within us. When our focus, energy and resources are completely poured into the behavior bucket, illusion is intentionally or unintentionally developed in our midst. It is only a matter of time.

When it comes to institutions, I am becoming convinced that one of our subtle obstacles to discovering core values resides in our fixation on behaviors. This obsession shows-up in various ways of assessment, development and compliance. Obstacles may also reside within our unknown valuing of a default illusion over the truth – and the role that behaviors play to create that illusion.

Sometimes the obstacle to discovering core values isn’t so subtle at all. It is in the refusal to go deeper in the first place. Some would argue that personal values have no place in the work place at all – suggesting that exposing personal values is too invasive. I would suggest that this fear comes from a lack of understanding of the richness that sits in the core of who we are. Likewise, it comes from the confusion (and illusion) created when we let behaviors, wants, needs, opinions and beliefs parade around disguised as core values. When we fully understand the difference, we unleash the endless potential of truth.

Personal core values are a treasure to celebrate and not a liability to hide.

Integrity is built when everything is connected — integrated.  When there is a disconnect, fertile ground for illusion is created – whether it is intentional or not. This is true when it comes to our personal integrity as well as the integrity of an organization’s culture. And let’s be clear, we bring our known and unknown personal core values to work and wherever we go — whether you admit it or not.

It is impossible to have integrity in the culture of an organization without the integration of personal core values. Creating organizational culture without both organizational and personal core values is a recipe for institutional illusion. Even worse, it is a waste of the untapped potential.

You might say that integrity and illusion are on opposite ends of the same continuum. David Copperfield has managed to simultaneously live them both by truthfully telling you he is an illusionist. That in itself is a bit of magic.

As always, I’d love for you to share your thoughts below!

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Contextual Connection Thu, 07 Feb 2019 15:38:44 +0000 It seems there’s a paradox at play. Our world is more connected, through our reach of communication and access to travel, than ever in the history of the human race. Our speed of change and disruption is unprecedented and exponentially increasing. We’re not only exposed to more information, but to more diverse information.

In theory, such an existence should offer greater experiences and profound insights. And sometimes it does. You would think that it would provide the possibility of a deeper understanding — nurturing more authentic relationships. And I’m sure there are examples where it has.

Yet, we often resist the inherent potential.

In our development as a society on a planet, one might assume our evolving conditions would naturally lend themselves to building bridges. Yet, we can fall into the trap of being overwhelmed and hunkering-down to narrow rather than widen our experience. At some level it is understandable — seemingly more manageable. Our “narrowing” can make life feel more controllable. Or at least give the illusion it is under control. Our control.

Yet, we’re forced to face our global reality more than ever before. It seems so large until we’re reminded just how relatively tiny it is. A glance at a cloudless night sky can be a gentle reminder that we live in a place tucked inside a vast existence. Most of us regularly lose the perspective this nearby reminder provides.

I recently viewed a video that showed the striking wonder of images captured through NASA’s Hubble telescope. It might be worth a moment for you to CLICK HERE to view it too. The images are beautifully overwhelming. And while these images are limited to the reach of the Hubble lens, there is no question that they will reset your scope into a broader context. There is great value in pausing to look beyond our own day-to-day home, work, community, city, state, country – and, yes, our “narrow” global experience.

At the same time, a broader context can be seeded right where you are.

I remember my first real taste of a broader experience during my sophomore year of high school. Our basically all-white boys’ school was consolidated with an all-white girls’ school and a coed black school. It was in Memphis – less than 2 years and 4 miles away from where Martin Luther King had been assassinated.

There was rich history and pride in each of these 3 parochial schools. The next 3 years would prove to be some of the most important years of my life. Challenging — yes. Eye-opening — for sure. Misunderstandings — everywhere. Did we get it right – sometimes. Did we change – somewhat.

But we all had the opportunity to learn something – about each other.

And we did. Not always the right things. Yet little-by-little, as we loosened assumptions, we learned some good things. Some really good things. I fully doubt that we learned as much as we could have or should have, but it was a start. A wonderful start.

Differences right in front of our eyes can create cause for misunderstanding — and our greatest opportunity for rich understanding. Especially when those differences are rooted on the surface. Variety on the surface can blind us from the richness of commonalities grounded deeply within.

In his book, Awareness, Anthony de Mello names the risk: “Understanding has stopped at that moment you slap a label on someone, and if the label carries undertones of approval or disapproval, so much the worse!”  Because what you judge, you cannot understand.

Where understanding stops, misunderstanding begins.

With less craving for judgement and more longing for understanding we might just experience the complete wonder our more connected world has to offer here … and way beyond. It could very well explain this paradox: We can more easily discover what is within us through the broader context of what is way beyond us – while at the same time, we can have a greater appreciation and connection to what is way beyond us by knowing what lies deep within us. It is, in fact, all connected.

We always have the opportunity to rediscover integrity whenever we allow ourselves to have this experience of integration. Integrity calls us to a richer state of being – where all is whole, entire and undiminished.

When was the last time you experienced a form of integration within, without – or both?  As always, please share your thoughts below.

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Time to Get Quacking Thu, 03 Jan 2019 15:42:39 +0000 My oldest brother, Mark, majored in music composition and subsequently spent his professional life in the music industry. I don’t know if his exact title was music arranger, but that was how I thought of him.  He arranged music … more specifically he arranged musical notes, yet in a way they would come to life.

It was amazing for me to watch him sketch-out beautifully drawn musical notes on a blank piece of sheet music. It was much like the notes were magically starting to sing right from the paper. I was still in my later years of grade school when I first watched him do this. He would draw the variety of musical notes faster than I could write the single words to the sentence of a letter.

While it appeared that the notes poured from the ink in his fountain pen, I knew they really flowed from his head, heart and soul. He had a deep love for music and was genuinely gifted at it.

I had the love … just without the gift.

Yet, just by watching him, he taught me more than he will ever know about loving and using the gifts you do have. He also taught me how to have some fun with your gifts. During one of my summer breaks from college, Mark called me to come over his house. He wanted me to hear a fun little jingle they had thrown together for a Memphis morning-drive radio personality, Rick Dees. Mark had written the trumpet section of this arrangement. Weeks later, that fun little piece would turn-out to be a run-away hit around the world hitting the #1 spot for a week on Billboard’s Top 100. It was called Disco Duck.

Based on that one song, Rick Dees would subsequently catapult his career from Memphis to Los Angeles morning radio. Disco Duck would go on to win the People’s Choice Award for Favorite New Song that year. Mark couldn’t bear to watch — cringing at the thought that this satirical novelty song would win such an award. While he had a lot of fun helping put together what was meant to be a fun little joke for Rick Dee’s morning show, he was disappointed we would confuse such an effort with real music.

Sometimes we also get confused about integrity.

We settle for satirical novelty versions of the real thing. We don’t do it on purpose, yet the results are the same.  Integrity is not a soundbite. It is a state of being. Whole. Entire. Undiminished. It’s the one essential thing — to everything. And when we settle for less, we leave powerful gifts inside us — unsung.

It is dangerous to make assumptions about the state and depth of our own integrity. Yet we often do.

On New Year’s Day we released Return On Integrity: The Individual’s Journey to the One Essential Thing. It holds the potential to unleash amazing gifts from your core if you will take the journey. Much like the musical notes that flowed from Mark’s head, heart and soul, you will find that your values will eventually begin to appear as a masterpiece you may never have imagined. And when they do, your needs, wants and behaviors will come to life as a whole new song.

Integrity is the most natural thing in the world. Your integrity is ready to sing and dance. Are you ready?

It might just be your time to take a “quack” at it!

CLICK HERE to view a 2-minute trailer for this new release. Now immediately available on Amazon.

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Unleashing the One Essential Thing Thu, 06 Dec 2018 15:22:45 +0000 It was a tense scene in the courtroom of A Few Good Men. Tom Cruise was verbally unleashing on Jack Nicholson. And then came Nicholson’s famous line from the movie – “You can’t handle the truth.” There is no doubt that truth can be hard. Inconvenient. Eye-opening. And life transforming … individually and collectively.

It sometimes seems that truth can be very evasive. Yet, that’s an illusion. This illusion is a reflection of our own evasiveness from truth. Truth — is truth. Sometimes we spin truth to align with our own opinions, beliefs, wants and needs. Rarely is that done intentionally or even consciously. Yet, it is more likely when we are not grounded-in the one essential thing:


Integrity is our alignment to truth – our expression of it. Integrity is not about compliance or control. Compliance and control are made necessary because of our lack of grounding in integrity. This is true in the cultures of organizations as well as our own personal behaviors.

As my work has continued to dive ever-deeper into exploring integrity, I have been lovingly taught that truth is found when we take a stance of least resistance. As you explore integrity in a stance of least resistance … you don’t find it. It finds you.

Six years ago, on a cool spring day, I sat on a cold stone bench in the beautiful Spruce Plot of the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. For me, it was a defining moment. I had one thing in mind as I looked down at the blank pad of paper tucked in the portfolio sitting on my lap — the need to redefine what first came to mind for a leader at the top of any organization when they thought of ROI.

This redefinition did seem a little daunting. Possibly even unrealistic in today’s world. After all, creating a return on investment is a noble cause rightfully seen as an expression of accountability and a sense of stewardship. Yet, I also realized in a world embracing accelerating speed – moving past the concept of change into an era of continual disruption – that a relentless focus on this ROI of return on investment was also fraught with potential fractures. Disconnects. And sometimes untruth. There was a more important ROI – not just another thing, but rather the essence of everything:

Return On Integrity.

I also knew that in the marketplace it had to begin with the leader at the very top. Four years later Return On Integrity: The New Definition of ROI and Why Leaders Need to Know It was published. It was specifically written for the top leader to address their own personal journey with realistic insights into this journey’s rough terrain. It was then a direct call to lead others on that same journey with the organizational development roadmap to scale it across their organization.

While the importance of the top leader’s role in owning and leading a return on integrity in their organization remains clear to me, it has also become clear that they are no more important on this journey than every other member in the organization.

Every. Single. Individual.

In May of this year, I returned to that same stone bench in the Spruce Plot — this time focused solely on the individual.  Every individual. And their own personal journey to the one essential thing.

This New Year’s Day we unleash the opportunity for every individual to begin their own journey to a deeper richer sense of integrity with Return On Integrity: The Individual’s Journey to the One Essential Thing.

Over the last few years, I have also lovingly been taught that we are all ONE. It is precisely what integrity is all about. Integrated. And it is precisely why individuals matter. It is true in any organization and in the life of each individual. Integrity is about each one – and then everyone. It is not easy. It just happens to be wonderful – and essential. It is a truth we can handle.

CLICK HERE to view a 2-minute trailer for this new release. Pre-orders are now available on Amazon.  Shipments begin New Year’s Day!

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