Owning Your Integrity
Itís not always easy to maintain your integrity in business relationships. In fact, it can be downright hard.
In my old medical practice, which was filled with people of integrity, I realized that my integrity was being compromised every day. All day long I was expected to lie – to make up reasons why an insurance company might cover a test I thought was necessary or to ďprotectĒ a patient from the whole truth. With 40 patients a day to see in my office, I had to pretend I was giving my patients top-notch care, when I knew in my heart it was simply good-enough care. With 72-hour call shifts at the hospital draining the life force out of me, I had to pretend I really cared by the time I delivered the 18th baby of a weekend on a half hour of sleep, when the truth was that I cared more about who was going to take care of me.
Having your integrity threatened on a daily basis is enough to eat away at the core of who you are. And I decided a few years back that I was done living that way. Never again. I was putting my foot down and living within my integrity from here on out.
So when I found myself in a business relationship that once again threatened my integrity, I struggled. Mostly, the struggle arose from my desire to continue in the business relationship because of certain fixations I had with what I loved about the working relationship. You know the fixations Iím talking about – attachments to people, to place, to security, to what you know. So I resisted ending the business relationship.
Until I had a dream. A very vivid dream. In my dream, the person I was in a business relationship with (letís call her Aria) asked me to go shopping. I said yes and followed her to the market. We crossed a very primitive border- maybe Mexico or some other developing country- where we waited in line amidst chickens and goats and colorful crafts. After crossing the border, we were walking on a dirt road, heading south to the market, when suddenly I looked left. To my left where rolling mountains, green and lush, and on the mountains stood hundreds of thousands of people, all dressed in traditional clothing from around the world – headdresses and robes and a brilliant array of world bazaar costumes. Every person was standing still, facing due north, and a golden radiant light glowed off their multi-colored faces. I stopped dead in my tracks on the dirt road, in total and complete awe.
Aria asked why I stopped. And I said, ďLOOK!Ē and pointed to the scene.
But Aria couldnít see it. She shrugged her shoulders and kept walking south, encouraging me to come along to the market.
Then I realized, I had a choice. As long as I kept heading south to the market, Aria would keep walking the well-worn path she knew. But if I stopped, turned around and faced north, she would have a choice – face north with me or keep heading south to the market.
When I woke up, I knew I had to pull out of our business deal – and face north. And so I did. Iím not saying Iím beyond reproach in anything I do. I make mistakes. I compromise. Sometimes, I even sell out. But whenever I can, I remember that as long as I stand still, face north, and let the glowing light radiate on my face, Iím doing the best I can. At the end of the day, your integrity is all you have.