Examining Your Integrity

“I never have any time.”

“My life is so full now.”

“I’m just so busy all the time.”

Do any of these statements ring true?

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In our fast-paced culture, we barely have time to catch our breath before we transition to the next thing.

Our load often outweighs our human limits.

Last month, we dove deep into unpacking what gets in our way as we explored and practiced sufficiency. Now, we’re turning the corner and focusing on the intention of integrity!

We typically think of having integrity in terms of standing up for what we know is true and right. Basically, walking your talk and not being a hypocrite. When we say an object has integrity, we’re referring to its overall strength and durability – it’s made to last!

In engineering, there is a foundational concept called “structural integrity” that determines the ability of a structure to support a designed load without breaking. When trying to determine the specific structural integrity of an existing building or new project, engineers must examine certain elements and study past structural failures. Then they decide how much can that one structure can really support safely.

How often do we apply the same principles to our lives?

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When you think about everything that you’re carrying – your LOAD – how does it compare to what you’re able to handle – your LIMIT?

And once you recognize your current load and corresponding limit, how honest are you about what you’re able to hold and complete?

Let’s look at two related concepts to figure out how to live and lead with greater integrity.

Margin and Emotional Endurance

Through my work as a Leadership Coach and Lifestyle Strategist as well as a Mompreneur running two businesses, I know how precious time, space, energy, and rest truly are. Those who possess and practice high level of integrity know what they can handle and don’t overcommit beyond their capacity. They maintain their margin and have high levels of emotional endurance.

Just like we need blank space to rest our eyes as we’re reading a book, our lives need breathing room and margin. Often, we only notice that we are emotionally depleted once we feel too drained to do anything about it.

While this is a sad reality, it’s also one that is easily fixable with a little intention and action. It starts with a deeper understanding of what emotional endurance is and how we can realign our lives so we feel renewed, rather than drained, as we live with greater integrity.

Emotional endurance is the dynamic capacity you develop to deal with life’s stresses and challenges with an attitude of possibility and resilience. ~Leslie Bosserman

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Emotional Endurance Includes:

  • Feeling a sense of control and optimism
  • Having a high threshold to handle change and the unknown
  • Demonstrating personal resolve and resiliency in the face of setbacks
  • Managing your energy effectively so you don’t burn out or feel overloaded
  • Maintaining a high level of personal integrity

When you exercise integrity, your emotional endurance grows stronger. Now let’s determine your current margin so you can reclaim what your life needs most now.

Margin is on the Menu

Now it’s time to get interactive with this three-course menu for examining and enhancing your margin. Start by collecting these ingredients:

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Ingredients

  • One blank sheet of paper
  • Small notecard
  • Favorite writing instrument
  • Timing device (clock, watch, smart phone)
  • Piece of dark chocolate or your favorite snack

Appetizer

Fold your paper into thirds and label each section as shown in the image below for POWER, LOAD, and MARGIN.

Entrée

  • Set a timer for 60 seconds. Under POWER, write down everything that currently energizes you, including specific skills you are proud of, personal strengths, and other areas of social and emotional support you have in your life.
  • Reset your timer for 60 seconds and, under the LOAD category, write down everything that is stressing you out or weighing on your heart and mind. These might be problems, obligations, work stressors, commitments, expectations, debt, deadlines, and interpersonal conflicts. Make sure to stop when it buzzes!
  • Take a moment to look at the two lists and consider what is leftover when you subtract the items in the LOAD section from the resources in your POWER section. What energy, focus, time, and capacity you have left for yourself and others? Author and Medical Doctor Richard Swenson calls this space your MARGIN.

Now, reflect on the following questions:

  • How large is your MARGN currently and how satisfied with this are you?
  • What areas of your POWER can you strengthen and use more often?
  • How can you reduce or eliminate some of the items you listed under your LOAD to help increase your MARGIN?

Dessert

  • Pause. Breathe. Reset. And eat your piece of chocolate!
  • As you’re enjoying this sweet treat, make an intentional, actionable commitment to increase your margin so you have more capacity to be with whatever life gives you and live with more integrity. Maybe your commitment is going on a walk during your lunch hour three times a week, sleeping in on Sundays, or saying “no” more often to things you really don’t care to do.
  • Whatever your margin-creating commitment is, write it down on the small notecard and put it somewhere you will see every day. Remind yourself to create and honor your margin. Live and lead with integrity.