I am not sure why, but something made me think of ‘integrity’ when I was pondering what to write about this week. I wondered if anyone had created a useful model of integrity which could be used as a basis for discussing the topic. I found relatively few in my researches – although a lot of very interesting and thoughtful discussions that could be used readily to create a model.
The Yacht Model
One model that appeared a couple of times in my searches is presented by at least two different businesses with stunningly similar text. The business may be linked or there may be some borrowing going on, but for me the challenge is to properly credit the model: it may belong to Integrity and Values .com, to Dynamic Creation, or to someone else. I welcome clarifying comments and claims, below.
Whoever owns it, it is a nice and simple model that captures a lot of what I understand by integrity. It is re-presented in Pocketblog format below. While the basic metaphor of a boat is the same, some of the details have been changed to create a different but related model.
In this model – and I do like the metaphor – integrity is represented by the mast. It ties everything together and allows the boat to function consistently and as a whole. When the mast is warped, weak or broken, that is no longer the case.
I am no sailor, so I don’t know how well the metaphor works technically, but I do feel indebted to Integrity and Values .com or whoever developed the metaphor for a nice way of representing integrity.
I was also struck by an exchange in one of my favourite TV shows, The West Wing, in which one character (it was Josh, if you are also a fan) noted that the problem is not when we fail to keep a promise. It is when we make a promise that we are not completely sure we will be able to keep. At the end of the episode, he is asked about something he has said: ‘is that a promise?’ says another character.
‘No’ Josh says. ‘But we’re going to do the best we can.’
That seems fair enough. If we go on to do just that, and work hard to do the best we can, then that is integrity.
Integrity is when your beliefs, your words, and your actions are all in alignment.