Over the last couple of years, I’ve become a big fan of something I never imagined. Audio books. I have always been the kind of reader who likes to dissect the pages of book. I go through a lot of highlighters in great books. I underline, use asterisks, and make notations in the margin. You can’t do that in an audio book. You could take notes on a notepad or iPad I suppose. Yet, it’s just not the same. And, of course, the audio keeps going. You could pause it. But that gets way too complicated and seemingly disruptive, at least for me.

Audio books do come with their own benefits. I love to close my eyes and just let the author’s story and insights wash over me. I prefer the narration to be the voice of the author. They intuitively know how they felt and what they meant as they were initially penning the original manuscript. Yet, by the time an author sits in a recording studio the manuscript has been worked, reworked and laid to rest … then brought to life as a completed book.

Reading your own work out loud is like an odd mix of an out-of-body experience and déjà vu … except in this case you really have been there before.

I began my own walk down that memory lane today.

Hunkered-down in a padded recording studio, I began to record the words of my book, Return On Integrity. Except for the periodic vocal directions of Charlie, the wonderful sound engineer on the other side of the glass, I was alone. Well, not exactly alone. I was with a completed narrative whom I intimately knew. We had spent a lot of time together during the long days, weeks and months of its creation.

We were together again. Yet, this time it was different. Rather than the words pouring out of me into it … as I narrated from page to page, its words were pouring back into me.

It’s a tedious process to record a book into its audio expression. To answer an obvious question that I’ve been repeatedly asked … yes, you actually sit and read every word of the book, out-loud. Every. Single. Word. The only difference between you and any other reader of the book is that you already know it, because you wrote it.

Or at least you knew it back then.

By the time I sat in a recording studio today, the context of our fast-moving world has continued to evolve. And this refreshed context allowed me to see my own content through a fresh set of eyes. I had come to think that integrity could best be described with three words: whole, entire and undiminished … as the state of being fully integrated.

And, today, as Charlie and I slowly and methodically worked our way through the recording of the Opening Thoughts, Overview and Dilemma sections of the book, I was woefully reminded that the need to be grounded with integrity has become all the more important in our world of ever-increasing disruption. As I read each word out loud, thoughts on the essence of integrity once again began to stir within me.

Integrity won’t prevent disruption … it enables us to find adventure in the midst of it. Nor is integrity a calling card to justify our ingrained opinions and beliefs with an isolating sense of confidence. Rather, it enables us to peacefully listen to differing viewpoints grounded in the strength of vulnerability. And in our fast-moving world, it doesn’t seem that integrity is about establishing some solid grounding.

Integrity is about being sound wherever you are.

As I sat alone within the sound-proof walls of the recording studio today, it brought back a lot of memories of pouring-out and pouring-over the raw drafts of the manuscript of Return On Integrity. Today’s experience also allowed me to discover yet another definition of integrity. Except this time, it wasn’t my words. They were Charlie’s: sound check.

As I heard those two words through my headset throughout the day, I realized they pretty much wrap up the essence of integrity. We might be well-served to close our eyes a few times a day and let those two simple words wash over our mind, heart and soul.

NOTE: We are excited to release the audio version of Return On Integrity this June.