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.