One of our staff recently wrote a blog comment describing Integrity as being Honesty with Courage. Bethany Palmer (Envoy's President) and I have been reflecting and discussing the application of this startling description for the past week. WOW! The addition of “courage” to the obvious “honesty” description is an important one. Let’s take a look at some of implications of this definition.
A quick thesaurus search shows honesty, followed by truth, honor and veracity, as descriptors of integrity. Courage suggests a willingness to take action—even to risk when action is taken. Kennedy’s "Profiles in Courage" was an early introduction to courageous acts for me. Regular people engaging in unusual acts of impact and change helps describe personal courage.
An element inherent in the understanding of courage is taking immediate action to impact any circumstances—to be an agent of change. I wrote in a previous blog that change is a decision. Often, courage is described as an instant response to a situation done without thinking. While this is often true, I think of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the front door of the Cathedral in Wittenberg. The result was the start of the Protestant Reformation.
I think of the concerted action of the passengers on United Airlines flight 93 that prevented terrorists from flying into a target in our Nation's Capital. They died in the process.
Finally, I think of courage in another, much more personal way. Try this: knowing you need to do something and procrastinating, or doing nothing. Isn’t this the opposite of courage?
"Congratulating" ourselves for being honest and truthful in all we do may only be one half of a critical distinction. Up until this dialogue, my definition of integrity really only included the component of “honesty” … I missed the whole “courageous” piece.
A common personal question is, “Can I look myself honestly in the mirror?” Or to question the actions of someone else by asking them, “Can you look yourself honestly in the mirror?” Perhaps a better question is, “Can I look myself in the mirror with integrity?" Frankly, I never thought about it. With this expanded definition firmly in mind, asking myself this question in the face of any given situation can be difficult, often troubling, and certainly disconcerting … disconcerting in the sense that the courageous part of the definition would require action on my part. Or to think back to that prior blog, a decision to take action.
In thinking about my focus on Future Funded Ministry (this has gotten personal), how does this expanded definition of integrity—honesty with courage—play out. Here are some questions that seem to emerge: What does it mean to engage in creating a Future Funded Ministry Plan with “Integrity”? What does it look like? What does it mean? What must I be honest about? And what courage can I demonstrate?
I’d love to hear your thoughts as we struggle with some new thoughts about a critical life responsibility—no, necessity. Retirement, Future Funded Ministry, Integrity … how do they connect for a Plan Sponsor, a Retirement Plan Oversight Committee and for Envoy Financial? All have to be engaged together to bring a great retirement plan experience to participants. And then, how does this definition of Integrity connect with Plan Participants?
We’ll address these issues in future blogs. Some of the metrics may surprise you. Think about it, and add your voice to the discussion.
Living with Trusted Advice together,
Write a comment if you have had an experience with making a difficult decision to act knowing what was true, or any other insights prompted by Expanded Integrity.