I was preparing to deliver a session on Integrity in Project Delivery this week and was looking for some inspiration… So of course life threw me my very own 'integrity challenge'.
Arriving at a client’s office for an all-day meeting, I pulled into the visitors’ car park and was greeted by a smiling security guard who informed me that there was a two-hour time limit in place. Parking is scarce in the area, and the all-day parking was full, so I told him I’d be back in two hours (which would see me through until morning tea).
When I mentioned this to my client, she said, “Don’t worry about moving your car. You’ll get a note on your windscreen, but there’s no penalty.”
A couple of hours later, I still had a nagging feeling that I was doing something wrong. Even though I wasn’t going to get into “trouble”, I felt really uncomfortable, so I decided to move my car.
On the way out to the car park, I wondered whether the friendly security guard had been a deliberate strategy. (Yes, I do tend to overthink things, but I prefer to think of it as being an astute observer of life!) Rather than intimidating people into compliance, the moment of human connection I'd experienced in that 30-second conversation had created a social contract that I was loathe to break.
When I got out to the car park, the security guard had gone, so I considered leaving my car where it was. But I still felt uncomfortable. What if he came back?
And then I remembered... Integrity!
Integrity is one of those lofty concepts that we can lose sight of in the day-to-day minutiae of life. But, for me in that moment, it came down to this: Am I going to do what I said I would do? Am I going to keep my word?
I’m not trying to paint myself out to be some kind of saint. Far from it. I make dozens of 'minor compromises' every day - most in the name of convenience and all at the expense of my integrity. But that’s the thing about integrity. It’s not something you have – it’s something you do.
It’s a moment-to-moment choice: Am I going to keep my word or not?
The literal meaning of integrity is to be whole or undivided.
When you don't keep your word, you are divided into the 'you' who says one thing and the 'you' who does another. When you keep your word - regardless of whether anyone's looking or what the consequences might be - you keep yourself whole.
Integrity is a big concept with huge implications, but it is constructed in small moments.
I'm not going to spell out the many ways in which this might apply to you or your team or your organisation. You already know...
(And I moved my car. Just in case you were wondering!)