“When your thoughts, feelings and actions are all in alignment.” – Stephen Covey’s thoughts on Integrity
I love Stephen’s insight on integrity! He was the first person I heard discuss feelings in this context. You can sense when you are out of integrity when you feel off-center. Claiming a purpose, by clearly defining your values and intentions and then going all out to pursue them, is one powerful way to develop integrity.
Having a clear purpose may also help you live longer! Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones, studies the secrets of longevity. He discovered that people with a defined purpose live, on average, seven years longer than those without one.
I visit with people every day who long for more harmony in their work. They often feel like they’re out of integrity when it comes to doing the work prescribed by bosses, especially when it’s not aligned with their own moral compass. For example, recently I talked to a worker at a big insurance company. This staffer feels like the new company practices are unfair to customers and employees. The mental stress is wearing her out physically, an all to real side effect of one’s work not being aligned with their purpose. The staffer in this instance has a strong sense of service to her clients and fellow employees that may not benefit from the company’s goals.
When I work with clients in groups or one-on-one, I help each person create a personal purpose statement that addresses work and life roles, not unlike a company mission statement. When completed, it provides the author fuel to propel them toward deeper meaning – and a better life regardless of the obstacles. A well-crafted purpose statement will inspire you, too. For some, being the best parent and/or spouse is their purpose and the work they do must serve this. Others choose to be more creative, while a few are up for a purpose that has global impact. Your purpose should address the values and roles you have that are most important to you in the long run.
A good career purpose statement will answer the question: Why am I working?
Here is my purpose statement, by role:
- Artist: I express myself with passion and courage.
- Seeker: I honor spirit by searching and practicing faith.
- Friend: I build true and loving relationships.
- Person: I am physically strong and emotionally alive.
- Leader: I lead others to learn and follow their own hearts.
- Community Member: I support ideas and people healing our world.
- Business Owner: I teach skillfully and create prosperity.
- Me: I have fun and learn new things every day.
Whenever I make a major decision, I try to revisit this purpose – set to music by my wonderful friend Claude Stein – so I can sing it. In addition, I have a short statement I use as an umbrella purpose: To follow my heart and trust what moves me.
Ideally, having a purpose statement is something you can refer to when you have hard decisions to make and it’ll make the process easier. For example, recently, I had some physical ailments that required me had to make drastic changes to my diet. Change is never easy but my resolve is strengthened by my purpose. My statement helps keep me in check and, if I reach for a freshly baked donut or full-fat latte, my mission statement reminds me not to punish myself, not to continually think of myself as forever starting back at zero. The donut is me, having fun. The renewed resolve is the seeker, searching.
Over the next few days, ask yourself what words or personal attributes come to mind when you think of the word integrity. Don’t force it or take longer with it than a few seconds at a time. Certain ideas or phrases will come up again and again. Those are what you’ll build your integrity on later in the week.
Until then – Peace.
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