By: Kim Green
The end is near but not near enough. Although we were told February 14th would be the end date, it seems the meaty discussions, over the length of the course, were so necessary that our teacher generously let the discussions continue, taking us a couple of classes off of our schedule. So, although the email is here, the end is not…yet.
After months of reading, coaching, being coached and having my brain totally reconfigured to the neutral mindset of a coach, the email finally arrived in my inbox! The email to which I refer is the email that signals the end of the Foundations class. And the end means, it’s time for the exam. Yikes!
I have mixed emotions about the test. I am excited to complete a challenging course. And I am anxious to start this new addition to my career, but I also feel quite nervous. How can I feel nervous about an open book test? Well, I do. I will have to study and study hard. Of course, I’ve heard that the exam is just “common sense” but we have learned several concepts that have tangled my mind. For example, last Thursday’s discussion on integrity and standards, still has me reeling. That discussion is one of the few classes where the whole class had a feeling, a thought, an opinion, a share, or a question. Integrity pushes people’s buttons. It seems we are all engaged in the struggle to find our own personal integrity, as the world spins furiously around us.
We all have our own version of what make us feel virtuous in a world where integrity is at a deficit. In our new modern world, integrity has taken a back seat. There is no longer eye contact, or facial expressions or the warm touch on a shoulder to let us know where we stand. We no longer know if we are safe or in danger. Our everyday dealings with human beings have dwindled in a way that has changed us all to our core. It is the wink of an eye, the furrowing of a brow or a wide-mouthed grin that used to be our tools for communication. Those tangible physical expressions are almost obsolete. Nowadays, it’s much easier to hide behind our feelings, while wreaking havoc on the world in silence. And because we live in such isolation, in one way or another, we have become immune to the sting of our integrity in those moments when we may be less than honorable.
Hacking into someone’s computer, stealing someone’s identity, draining a bank account or posting something toxic about ourselves or others are all huge acts that are just a few strokes or clicks on our keyboard. We can even “unfriend” someone without them even knowing. We are no longer encouraged to face our conflicts head on, or even face ourselves. In this new cowardly world we no longer see or feel the blood that we draw. It is so effortless to X out of a screen and turn on the next device.
What is integrity and why does it push such buttons? The discussion started with us defining the word in our own terms. Integrity as the class listed is:
And, according to the dictionary, it is “unimpaired, complete and undivided.” The definition continued with the origin of the word: “Rooted in the math term “integer.”
“And what is an integer?” Lynn quizzed. A WHOLE number.
Another thought was, “Devotion to the truth regardless of consequences.” Personally, I liked the sound of that.
The million-dollar question was then thrown at us: “How do you know when you are in a state of integrity?”
The class threw their hats into the ring:
“When you’re in alignment with your values.”
“When you feel good.”
“When you are at peace.”
“When you are in a flow.”
Another definition came up that resonated with me. “When what you say, do and feel all come from the same place.” Amen.
And as soon as that was said, I could almost hear the audible shuffling of brains and hearts at work. What does that mean? I could hear everyone silently taking inventory of his or her own integrity. I know I was. Then, one classmate stepped forward to share about his integrity being tested when he is with his family who happen to have largely different views of the world than he does. He shared that when he is with certain family members, he finds that his buttons are pushed, taking him “way out of integrity.” Because he gets flustered, angry and upset he feels that he is out of integrity. He worries that when he is in that argumentative state, he is out of integrity.
I disagreed. Who says that integrity is calm? To me, integrity has always been a fighting word because it evokes in our souls what it is that we truly believe in, even in this ever-churning world. To me, to fight for what you believe is the very touchstone of integrity. In my mind, not fighting is where you lose it.
I want to push the point, but it seems like my teacher doesn’t appreciate too much push back. For me, it is the fluster that signals that your core is not at peace. When you believe in something so strongly, your fluster is visceral; it is the floor of your integrity.
The conversation continued as we all tussled with what it all could mean. Then, my classmate who started this whole discussion brought us powerfully to order. He said, “It is when you are fighting so hard that you become the hate, yourself. And then you are out of integrity.”
But a new understanding of this begs the question…should there be “hate” when you are fighting for love? Sadly, I believe that there almost must be. It’s about what you are loving and why. History tells us that there must be rage for love. If not, all the lives that have been lost in the struggle for freedom from oppression were all in vein. Rage to protect love has always been the progressive’s conundrum and will always be.
As coaches, we must inspire and delve and persist. Love is worth everything.
Kim Green is a writer and a student at The Institute for Life Coach Training. In this blog series, she has documented her experience as she goes through the Foundational training. To read about Kim's journey, click here.