Landmark Education and the Landmark Forum

July 2, 2010

Integrity and Having your Life Work

Filed under: inspiration — Tags: , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 8:32 pm

I’ve written about integrity, and the Landmark Education definition of it, a few times before, but I think it’s worth reviewing the issue as relates to personal effectiveness and performance. I’ve been reading bits of a good book titled ‘The Economics of Integrity’ which shows how our entire economy is built on trust, and when it disappears, the economic consequences can be devastating. It also discusses the recent global financial crisis, where it’s pretty obvious that a lack of integrity demonstrated by many people in the financial industry has had a huge impact on all of us.

All of this is fairly obvious to most people, and yet we are very remiss in applying the principle to ourselves. Said in a slightly different way, when it’s so clear that a lack of integrity can make the economy and society unworkable, why do we think we can get a way with a lack of integrity in our lives? Why do we think we can lack integrity in our lives and have them still be workable?

People that know me and know Landmark Education know the idea that we’re not talking about integrity as a moral issue, but as an issue of workability – being late for a meeting doesn’t make you a bad person, but it makes the meeting less workable, to give a simple example.

Generally, we think that a lack of integrity in society is bad for society, and a lack of integrity on our own part might speak bad of us, but we don’t really think that it will make our lives work less effectively.

One of my favorite blogs, Solid Gold Creativity, has written an excellent post that makes the point very well (and also links to a document created by one of Landmark’s founders, check it out). It points out how every broken promise (even to yourself) or lie or not doing what you know to do adds up and has a huge impact on your life. It affects the view others have of view, the view you have of yourself, your view of what’s possible in life, and it affects what results it’s possible for you to produce.

I know personally that the seemingly little things, like paying a bill late or not exercising when I’ve told myself to do it, or not returning a phone call subtly add up to a mountain – collectively those things can destroy the ‘blank canvas’ for my life, my view that today is a new day and I can accomplish anything. Instead they leave me feeling mediocre and resigned.

So lately I’ve started a bit of an experiment: integrity for its own sake. Not because it makes me a good person, or that it will immediately lead to some great result, but just to see what becomes possible when I honour my word. We’ll see what happens!


April 22, 2010

Integrity in Business – IBM’s Loss

Filed under: inspiration — Tags: , , , , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 9:23 pm

I was recently sent a finance textbook which appeared to contain the ideas of Landmark Education in its text as applied to growing wealth in a business. Although Landmark isn’t mentioned by name, the book’s discussion of integrity had to have come from Landmark’s ideas, as anyone who reads it would attest. It points out to how mainstream these supposedly radical, new-age ideas have become.

Specifically, it looks at integrity in terms of workability, and how a lack of integrity within a business organisation invariably affects its performance negatively. Here’s a brief excerpt:

“…integrity is required in order to gain workability and the trust of others that in turn opens up the opportunity for high performance. In other words, the absence of integrity relegates the firm to no better than average long term peformance.”

That integrity matters is obviously not a revolutionary idea – what’s specific to Landmark here in my view is the idea of viewing integrity solely through the lens of workability and performance, rather than as a moral issue.

This can be quite controversial with some people, who thinks this view abandons moral responsibility, but I think the opposite is actually true. Moral responsibility is obviously important, but by focusing on performance, it allows the costs of a lack of integrity come into focus, which go beyond moral fault. Let’s face it, many businesses unfortunately don’t care about moral responsibility, but if they saw that their lack of integrity was actually impacting their bottom line – this would move them into action faster than any moral argument probably ever would.

To make this point, the author, Bartley Madden, gives the fascinating example of IBM developing personal computers. The best technologies all existed with IBM for making personal computers; however, there was a lack of integrity and trust within the company that had different departments not trust each other to deliver on various aspects of a product. As a result, IBM’s personal computer group farmed out two aspects of their computers – the operating system and the microchip – to Microsoft and Intel. In so doing, they gave away perhaps the two biggest business opportunities of the last fifty years – all because of a lack of integrity. A company may not think of “workplace culture” as essential to the bottom line – examples like this prove how erroneous this view can be.

Note that integrity here again is workability issue, not a moral one – there may not have been any moral issues at IBM, but the lack of trust and communication between departments lacked structural integrity as far as the company went. And it obviously paid dearly.

Anyhow, I’m not expert, but it seems a very interesting book to me – it gives many more examples of how a company’s integrity impacts the bottom line – here’s the Amazon page for Wealth Creation.

December 30, 2009

Integrity and What it Means

Filed under: inspiration — Tags: , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 5:23 pm

I read an article today about what integrity supposedly means in a Landmark Education kind of a way on a blog today, and it struck me as something useful to discuss. The article distinguishes integrity from morality and ethics, and defines it as honoring one’s word.

One reason I find this interesting is that I’ve noticed that this is a place some critics of Landmark Education like to attack the company and its ideas. Apparently, some critics feel that by defining integrity as different from morality or ethics, it somehow means that Landmark is asserting that morality and ethics aren’t important and that Landmark must have neither.

Whether this misreading in intentional or not, it is clearly a misinterpretation of what’s actually being said. It’s not saying that morality and ethics are unnecessary or useless. To me, it’s saying that by focusing on integrity solely in these terms, there is something left out that could have great value to people.

Said another way, one honors one’s word solely because it is the right or good thing to do, then it is likely that one won’t necessarily be inclined to do so in situations where it isn’t particularly right or wrong to honor one’s word. And this definition of integrity in this article points to the fact that there is an impact on a person when they don’t honor their word even if they aren’t wrong for doing so.

Here’s an example. I promise myself that I will eat right and exercise several times a week. I get busy in my life and I don’t keep that promise. Now, I don’t think many people would say that this makes me a bad or immoral person. However, the impact on my health from not keeping my promise is very real, and it has nothing to do with whether or not it was moral to break my word. Moreover, there is also probably an impact on how I view myself; I may start to believe that I’m lazy or that I can’t be counted on to keep promises to myself.

The point is that whether one honors one’s word or not causes a big impact in one’s life independent of the morality of breaking or not breaking one’s promise. If I’m taking a holiday in Greece, and I miss my plane flight, one could say that I didn’t honor my word to myself to be on the plane and go on the vacation. Now, I’m not a bad person for missing the flight, but I still suffer the impact of having missed the flight and what that’s cost me in terms of my vacation.

Said another way, I believe we tend to notice the moral impact of not keeping our word, but not so much the impact on power and effectiveness in our life.

Read the article on this ‘Life after Landmark’ blog; you’ll find it interesting.

March 27, 2009

Without Integrity Nothing Works

Filed under: inspiration — Tags: , , , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 5:14 pm

I found a recent blog post that reads like it was written by someone who’s taken Landmark Education classes, though I have no proof of this. It’s on the subject of integrity, and includes the phrase “without integrity nothing works”, which you will hear if you take Landmark courses.

I think it’s worth taking a moment to note that many people seem to misunderstand what is meant by integrity when it is mentioned in a Landmark programme. It’s no talking about the definition of integrity that’s about being a good person or being moral. Instead it focuses on the definition of integrity that is like having the strucutral integrity of a building-If it’s not build with a proper foundation it won’t “work”; the building will eventually fall down. Similarly, if two people agree to meet somewhere at a given time; if one person doesn’t show up, it’s not about the morality of it, it’s about that what was to be accomplished in that meeting won’t be accomplished – it will lead to unworkability. I’ll give some of this blog post from the Integrity Dividend blog that says it better than I can.

Without Integrity Nothing Works – Tony Simon

Webster’s defines integrity as 1: incorruptibility 2 : an unimpaired condition : soundness 3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness.

Webster’s defines work as: 1: activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something: a sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective.

For me, having integrity is doing something as it is designed to be done and as it is expected by others to be done.  Let’s say you are going to do something and you are going to do it the way you want but not the way it is expected to be done.  For it to have integrity, you would simply let others know how you are doing it.  It may have consequences and an impact, but for me, it would have integrity.

The concept of “working” points to whether or not something is functioning as it is supposed to. Working means that whatever you are referring to is able to fulfill its mission. There is a neutral aspect in this.  We are not necessarily talking about high performance or the optimal solutions.  However, if something does not work you surely will not get to high performance.

I am not a financial expert; however, as a business consultant with a MBA, I am also not a complete dunderhead in this area.  Regarding the mortgage crisis and the subsequent financial products that were constructed from them, there appears to be a lack of integrity with mortgages being sold to and taken by people who could not pay them back.  In that, where is the integrity? In addition, the financial products that were subsequently constructed were not fully understood or known, yet they were counted on like they were known and understood.  Again, in this where is the integrity?  One could say our current economic status is due to a lack of integrity.

It is important to distinguish integrity from morality.  We are not talking about good vs. bad or right vs. wrong.  Rather, we are asking about whether something is whole and complete and can stand up independently.  Does the thing hold together?  In reality is what you see, is what you really have.

So as business owners, what can we do and where can we stand as we confront these challenging business times?  Personally, my integrity and the integrity of my business gives me a context to live by.  I honor my word and do not allow circumstances to get in the way of “how” I do business.    Instead, my values and my integrity guide my actions.

It’s really worth reading the whole post – I recommend it highly.

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