I’ve been privileged to spend the past few days in Professor Tom DeLong’s Harvard Authentic Leader Development class.
Today, we talked about integrity and I was shocked to admit that I have some failings with regard to this sacred value.
I’m pretty okay with towing the character line under normal circumstances. You see, when I have space to process things, I can arrive at a reasoned conclusion and remember my home training. But, when I’m under pressure to complete something important or time-bound; and when I’m in danger of being victimized, I am not above telling white lies to scale through.
I was troubled because of the capacity for this to become a pattern of behaviour, if unchecked.
After all, values are often tested spontaneously in circumstances that demand instinctive responses.
Life comes at you fast. Crisis happens when you least expect it. Therefore, your first reaction often demonstrates what your real values are.
After going through the class workbook, I learnt my core issues were fear and trust. I live in a country where many offices have harried employees who get off of little power. Even if all your documentation is in place, few people will give you the chance to explain. You can lose your place and then have to start the process all over again. Therefore, you quickly learn to say whatever you need to say to move your work forward. Hence, the white lies. You’re constantly thinking through scenarios and preparing a response to what the person wants to hear.
However, I am concerned because I don’t want to become used to the end justifying the means. Something doesn’t sit well with me trying to rationalize practicality. I’m naïve, I know. But I prefer being bothered by it than glossing over it and moving on.
My lack of trust stems from a need to reduce uncertainty.
It’s not believing people will be good to me. Not trusting God to keep his promises and not being convinced that I won’t be victimized by small-minded people.
I’m also not prepared to bear the full consequences of righteousness. It’s okay to do good when nothing tangible is at stake. But am I willing to sacrifice something for my values – whether time or opportunity?
These are the real issues I am grappling with and I hope to find some clarity.
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