Integrity is Aliveness

Integrity gets a bad rap. It’s one of those ‘precious words’ that a lot of my clients have a lot of unconscious stories built up around: It’s both something they really want, or at least think they should want, but they also have a lot of stories about how difficult, rigid, and life-sucking it’s going to be in order to ‘be in integrity’.

Most people think of integrity as something structural, e.g. “doing what you say you will do” or “always telling the truth” or “starting what you finish” or “do no harm”. I find those approaches to integrity to be quite brittle – it satisfies someone’s ‘how?’ question but loses touch with the ‘why?’ It’s often laced with judgment and a problem-solving (i.e. victim) worldview. It’s integrity as prescription, but what I’m really interested in is integrity as inspiration

‘Integrity’ is just a word, and can mean many things. For about 8 years I even referred to myself as an ‘Integrity Coach’ – more as a conversation starter than it having anything to do with coaching methodology. But in that time I did come up with a definition of integrity that I really resonated with:

Integrity is that force in the universe that has things naturally want to move towards alignment.

This is a turnaround from how most people think of integrity:

  • Integrity isn’t something you do; it’s a pre-existing force you can tap into.
  • Accessing integrity is a subtractive approach, not additive.
  • Integrity is something you allow, or get out of the way of, or find ways to align with – more like the Tao than a rule book.
  • Integrity is something that wants to happen. It’s not our ego trying to wrestle the world into submission: it’s the intelligence of the world pointing us towards a better way.

A good example of integrity is getting a chiropractic adjustment. It might feel weird (unfamiliar) to find yourself in a better posture than usual, to be relaxed where before you were tensed – but it also feels better. Integrity is like that – it feels more natural to be in integrity.

Coming from this kind of integrity, it’s natural for structures to emerge where integrity is primary and the structures are secondary. It’s natural for your words and actions to align. It’s natural to be honest and kind. Not because you ‘should’, but simply because it feels like the right thing to do.

Someone who is centered in their integrity is like a master martial artist: relaxed, aware, with great power and skill available in any moment. Energy flows more easily. Integrity isn't something that slows you down: it's a force multiplier.

So when you’re in integrity life gets simpler, not more complex. Life becomes more miraculous, less dramatic. There’s less noise in the system, and even hard work feels effortless. Living in integrity is living in flow. The world rises up to support you.

Integrity at its essence, before we try to reduce it to rules, is aliveness. Allow yourself to be guided by that aliveness, and it will never guide you astray.

Michael McDonald
Transformational Coach
Leadership, Life Optimization, Intimacy and Enlightenment

P.S. Join me in person at two excellent upcoming retreats, SoulPlay (discount code AuthenticIntegrity) on June 8-11 and Reflections July 6-9 where I will be facilitating Relational Alchemy experiences.

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Michael McDonald, Transformational Coach

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