Three years ago, my director arranged for me to have some one-on-one coaching with a leadership coach to learn more about how to effectively lead without a manager’s title.
The leadership coach, Cynthia Barlow (who has now become a friend and one of my biggest supporters) asked me a pointed question as part of the “getting-to-know you” part of our session:
“What do you want most?”
I took a few seconds to let this question sink in and almost immediately my body began shifting towards a sense of ease as if I had been waiting forever for someone to ask me this very question, so that I could answer:
“Authenticity. That’s what I want most. I just want to be me.”
What happened for me that day – in that moment – was that I became fully committed to what I call “an inside-out job”. In that moment, I committed to being done with everyone else’s expectations of me, with staying quiet and not speaking up, with allowing myself to live small – saying I wanted A, B and C out of life and instead doing X, Y and Z just so I could shrink into the back of the room and not be seen.
You see, until that point, I had lived a lot of my life acquiescing to others, and I hadn’t a clue as to who I was and what I stood for. I saw myself as wishy-washy and without a backbone.
Then that question came along and just as I had made a commitment about what I was done with, I made a commitment to what I was ready for.
What I have learned in the past three years is that living with integrity, or at least my recipe for it consists of:
- Defining values – what’s important
- Words and actions that align
- Managing the inner “gremlin”
Over the next several posts, I will explore each of these ingredients in greater detail.
If you’re looking for a more formal definition of the word “integrity” than the swanky (ehem self-made) visual at the beginning of this post, I came across an excellent blog post “The Source of Integrity” from leadership coach and consultant Lolly Daskal via Twitter that does so very articulately. You may also want to check out this short video from motivational speaker Sam Spry: