Many years ago, a mentor told me that when what I think, say, feel, and do are all in alignment, I am acting with integrity. I have done the footwork and very slowly become a person of integrity – or so I thought. After a recent experience, I realize I have more work to do in this area than I want to admit. The gift, and there was one, was the way I ultimately chose to handle a messy situation.
The details aren’t important. Suffice to say that it was something that occurred professionally. I made an important commitment and did not follow through. Gratefully, someone explained the consequences of my lack of action. After wiping away my tears and dusting off my ego, it was time to figure out how to address the matter.
The truth is that I had choices. I could lie and create some hopefully plausible excuses, or I could own the mistake. I chose the latter, and the results are still playing out.
As I took steps to right the wrong, I realized a few things. My professional mantra has been to under-promise and over-deliver for years. I deviated from that in this instance, which led to my lapse in integrity. No man is an island. Even if I over-promised, not bringing together the right team members gave me zero chance of being able to deliver anything. Finally, and most important, truth by omission is a lie. If you ask me a question and I knowingly give you a half answer, it is as if I lied.
I can apply the lessons I learned to many areas of my life, not just professionally. In time, I want to believe I will be able to earn back the trust that was lost.