I cannot find language of sufficient energy to convey my sense of the sacredness of private integrity.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Integrity is a slippery little sucker (to quote Julia Roberts in the famous Pretty Woman hotel scene).
It’s one of the toughest concepts to wrap your head around.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson – American essayist, lecturer, and poet sums up, its immeasurable value is impossible to express in words.
I love sharing various ideas about integrity, but I actually don’t learn about integrity from others so much.
Some of my most profound lessons have been delivered by the most obscure of teachers.
My most memorable integrity professor?
A few years ago I dived head first into furniture restoration and re-vamping beautiful old pieces into even more beautiful, rustic and aged looking pieces.
Around this time I had a coaching session with the amazingly wise Katherine Hosie, founder of Powerhouse Coaching, and was exploring this idea of integrity.
“But what does it actually mean?” I pushed outright.
“Well, you know your furniture, the furniture you choose, fix, strip, sand, re-shape, paint, seal and polish?”
“Ah, yeah” I hesitated
“Well, you choose these pieces because they have a history, a story. They’re very well-built, have stood the test of time, many have been shaped by a craftsman’s hands with pride and they’ve been handed down, maybe through generations with very little structural damage” Kate offered.
“Ahhhh..” I followed
“And, then there’s the TV unit you pick up from Ikea, in a flat pack, to knock together in 15 mins with a beer in one hand.” She continued.
We all get this analogy, intellectually.
We know that not much beats the clean, sweeping lines of a high quality piece of Danish furniture from the post-war period. Recognisable for their simple, elegant, and airy forms, their master craftsmanship means excellent examples will be widely available in beautiful condition for years to come.
That night I walked around our home enlightened. Integrity jumped out clear as day. I touched the curves of integrity, the workmanship, strength and resilience of integrity.
I now see every piece of furniture in its full glory – busking in the nakedness of its own truth and integrity.
And, if it doesn’t have a strength and story, it’s pretty much ended up on eBay!
I would love to know, what’s been your most profound lesson in the fine art of understanding integrity?