Integrity

I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to live to a fairly strict code of behavior.

Dragon-Knights

Dragon-Knights (Photo credit: JimmytheJ)

I don’t cheat.  Not at games, in my relationships, on my taxes, nothing.  I don’t cut corners or try to get away with things.

The reason isn’t that I’m trying to be some fictional knight in a storybook.  It’s been my experience that cutting those corners always seems to be more expensive in the long run, whether it’s fines, lost friends and relationships, or even a general crappiness of life.  The people I know who are always trying to get away with stuff or get ahead at someone else’s expense have the least, whether that’s money, friends, loved ones, or happiness.

Living a noble, honorable life has benefits.  

I don’t pay fines and penalties often.  Just the occasional speeding ticket, but that’s been one in the last 10+ years.  Not getting fined for parking in a handicap spot or cheating on my taxes makes it far easier to save my money and build my wealth than constantly handing money over to the government.  I’ve got a friend who can’t keep himself away from the justice system.  Spending 3 or more months in jail every year makes it hard to keep a job or have a relationship with your family.

My friends know they are my friends.  They can count on me and that means I can count on them.  They also know that if that equation falls out of balance, it will be over.  I only want friends I can count on.  If you can’t have my back, or you feel a need to gossip about my life, I don’t want you in it.

My kids have no insecurities about my love.  They know I am here for them, no matter what happens.  Even if the occasional temper tantrum has them screaming that I clearly hate them, they know better.  They know this father’s love is unconditional.

Work trusts me.  Last year, I basically created the department I work in my telling my boss that I was sure I could make it work.

I have some badass karma.  In general my life if pretty good, and I like to think it’s because I work to be a good person, do good things, and treat the people in my life right.

There are some downsides.   Not everyone lives like this and I have problems relating to them.   I’m not a sympathetic person to someone who tries to duck out on child support or who has to spend 30 days in the workhouse for trying to hock a stolen stereo.  I can come across as a bit self-righteous.

I expect the people in my life to live the same way and treat me the same way.  When that fails to happen, those people are nearly always evicted from life.

Life’s too short for people willing to screw you over.

Sometimes, though, that eviction is too complicated to do quickly, cleanly, or easily.  That’s can be a turmoil in my life, and I hate turmoil.   I don’t normally have to debate the correct course of action.   Something is either right or it’s not.  If it’s not, I know it and it doesn’t get done.   If I have to wonder, then it’s definitely not right.

Every once in a while, I get stuck with a choice between shitty options and that’s where this system fails.   Sometimes, no option is good, right, and proper.  Every choice has a big downside, and none of the choices are clearly right.

That’s turmoil.  Indecisive, emotional, horrible turmoil.

How was your day?

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Integrity

The true measure of a man’s integrity is not what he will do, but rather what he won’t do.
-Flannery O’Connor

Have you watched a TV lately? Have you noticed that most sitcoms are based entirely on dishonesty? If the characters would stop lying to each other, the premise of most shows would fall apart. How much humor can be found in getting caught in a lie, week after week? If I lived in one of those homes, there would be a divorce happening immediately.  There’s no integrity in any of the relationships.

Integrity means no lying, cheating, or stealing.  It means you deal with everyone honestly and honorably.  You don’t cheat on your wife, or make BS excuses to your kids.  You have to make sure you have nothing to feel guilty about and expect the same from the people you deal with. It’s not always easy. If a waitress accidentally forgets to ring up a meal, or a store clerk only rings up one DVD, or the scanner borks itself and give an extra 50% off, you speak up, even if it costs $100. That’s honesty.

Ultimately, what you do during the day, you have to sleep with at night. This includes avoiding responsibilities.  Always do what you say, barring forgetfulness, and in that case,  make up for it immediately.  Don’t break promises,  don’t skip out on debts, and don’t get into commitments you have no intention of honoring.

I’ve discovered that the best way to keep your stories straight is to only tell the truth. I don’t have to coordinate an alibi or remember which lie I told to which person if I am honest in all of my dealings. It’s not the easy path. It would be easier to sneak large purchases into the house, or tell my wife I was working late instead of going out for a beer. There are a lot of shortcuts I refuse to take with my life. People act like I’m stupid because I won’t cheat anyone. I enjoy being treated like that, because it means I know who to avoid in the future.  If you break promises, lie, cheat, steal, or skip out on your responsibilities, I don’t want to associate with you.  Honesty is an important part of my life and relationships.  I won’t apologize for that.

What are your core values?

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Bonding Relationships

People can’t be happy in a vacuum.  We are social creatures.  Even the most anti-social among us needs some human contact.  How can you make that contact happen in a meaningful way?  How can you connect with other people beyond some superficial meaningless chatter?

According to Keith Ferrazzi in his book, Who’s got your back, there are four mindsets necessary to build lifelong relationships.

1.  Generosity. This is your promise to help others succeed.  If have a skill that can help someone you know, why not give them a hand?  when you help others, you are building social capital, which is a currency that cannot be bought.  Since our lives are not ledger books, you can’t do favors with repayment in mind, but it is reasonable to assume that the people ou help will want to help you some day.

An often overlooked generosity strategy is to give away 90% of everything.  I’m not suggesting you give away 90% of your wealth or possessions.  I’m suggesting you give away 90% of your personal product.   Plan to give away 9 times more than your receive.  This will not only keep your from being disappointed, but it will also leave you feeling very fulfilled.

2.  Vulnerability. It is important to let down your guard and let the world see your humanity.  It’s almost impossible to truly connect with someone who’s shields are always up: the guy who seems to be invulnerable and unapproachable.  The people you spend time with know your flaw anyway.  If you pretend they don’t exist, you are only fooling yourself.  I have a lot of problem with this one.   Letting down my guard is incredibly difficult, in almost every circumstance.  It is far easier to be strong than to let myself be vulnerable.

3.  Candor. Total honesty is vital to establishing–and maintaining– lifelong relationships.  Even the white lies can destroy your connections.  If you can lie about the little things, you are planting doubts on everything else you do and say.  Who can trust you then?  Lying is inappropriate in almost all conceivable cases.  I was raised that a man’s word is his bond.   Almost everything you have can be taken away from you, but not your honor.  That can only be destroyed by you.  Without it, what do you really have?

4. Accountability. You need to follow through on your promises.  Be Mr. Reliable(or Mrs!).  If you say you will do something, do it!  Nothing builds resentment faster than disappointing the people who are counting on you.   If you can’t meet a commitment, let the soon-to-be-let-down know as early as possible, so other plans can be made.  If you have a hard time keeping promises, then make fewer of them.

If you embrace these principles, you will be well on your way to building–and keeping–strong, satisfying relationships that benefit everyone.

How do you build your relationships?

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