AS Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of BIZCATALYST360°, I’ve had the distinct privilege of “curating” over 29,000 articles to date, a number of which have been focused on some form of emerging leadership challenge. The process of curating has afforded me the unique opportunity to learn firsthand and ultimately publish what’s topical, what’s relevant, and what triggers the greatest response amongst readers – not just of my publication, but hundreds of publications across the globe.
From this particular “big data” vantage point, it’s become increasingly clear that “Elvis has (long ago) left the arena” when it comes to the existence of fundamental core values, such as ethics, integrity, and authenticity. Hence; my preëmptive introduction of authentegrity into the English vocabulary:
authentegrity > adv. 1 of undisputed origin or veracity; genuine. 2 the quality of having a set of morally correct values and principles. 3 proactively displaying a profound strength of character. 4 always doing the right thing, even when no one else is watching. 5 personal and professional behavior of the highest ethical standard. 6 true, real, actual, legitimate. 7 reliable, dependable, trustworthy, unadulterated. 8 generosity of spirit. 9 embracing gratitude and humility.
And it is equally apparent that when Elvis left, he may have taken with him a sizeable chunk of such values from both the leadership AND “life-ship” arena. Because as much as we may all try hard to portray a different version of ourselves at work versus at life, “who we really are” from a core values perspective ultimately surfaces, particularly in the midst of unexpected events or stressful situations. Our guard is let down, our kimono is flung open – and our true character is revealed.
What Really Matters?
We’ve heard it all before. Integrity matters. Ethics matter. Authenticity matters. Character counts. Innumerable articles centered on these “mantras” have been written in recent years, including one of my absolute favorites by Amy Reese Anderson, as published in Forbes: Success Will Come And Go, But Integrity Is Forever. As excerpted from Amy’s Article:
Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be.
No doubt many of us “do our best” to do the right thing – when it’s easy when it’s convenient, or perhaps because others are watching. But what if all four of these mantras converged into an ironclad personal code of conduct – in essence, a core value “manifesto?” What if we all actually took this manifesto to heart without exception or compromise – starting right now and continuing every waking minute of every day? Imagine the very real personal and professional impact borne of the simple act of unreservedly embracing a rare, refreshing and relentless commitment to “doing the right thing.” Imagine promises always delivered. Imagine strength of character “unplugged.” Imagine the remarkable possibilities.
One Man’s Theory
“Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be.”
Emerging from the substantive curating exercise discussed earlier is my working theory as to why essays on the topics of ethics, integrity, authenticity, and character are so popular (in terms of abundance, readership & response levels, etc.). And it’s fairly simple – The popularity is merely a reflection of a “core value vacuüm” surrounding us all. We’re increasingly cynical and untrusting by virtue of our environment. Not only do we presume the absence of character, but we’re remarkably surprised when it appears. It’s a sad commentary (and by default, a competitive advantage) when you can readily distinguish yourself “from the rest” by way of genuine good-faith business dealings founded upon these core values.
Laying Down The Gauntlet
The Principles of Authentegrity are as simple and straightforward as they are rare these days, as evidenced by the headlines we all read and the people we come in contact with. Quoting again from Amy’s Article:
We live in a world where integrity isn’t talked about nearly enough. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means” has become an acceptable school of thought for far too many.
There’s clearly no rocket science here. Change is not only possible but without the risk of a downside. No life coaches needed. No self-help books to read. We all have the ability if coupled with the willingness and commitment to take what has, unfortunately, become the road less traveled. It’s not simply what you do, but how you do it – and whether you do it on such a consistent basis that it becomes your genuine persona, or “second nature.”
So, take a moment right now to step back before you look forward to the rest of today. Take a moment to consider that we can all become “better versions” of ourselves, on both a leadership and a “life-ship” basis.
I offer that the time has come to cast aside all the reasons, excuses, and justifications for “business as usual.” I offer that the time has come to understand and embrace the fact that “success will come and go, but authentegrity is forever.” How does your current modus operandi fare against such an unbridled approach to strength of character? Take a moment now to consider your compass alongside the ten fundamental Principles of Authentegrity presented below.
“AUTHENTEGRITY” (The Principles)
- I am consistently honest and trustworthy.
- I am consistently genuine and forthright.
- My personal and professional behavior is of the highest ethical standard.
- My integrity is beyond compromise and I always do the right thing.
- I am consistently fair and reasonable.
- I am consistently respectful and considerate.
- I am consistently loyal and reliable.
- I am consistently generous with praise and constructive with criticism.
- I am consistently understanding, sincere and approachable.
- I openly express gratitude, demonstrate humility and freely share my wisdom of experience.
Yes —Of course, the bar has been set high. Why not? Call it a journey if not a destination – or simply a good-faith opportunity to step back, fine-tune your direction, and move forward with the best of intentions …
What does your compass reveal? Are you amongst the “ethical elite” or do you come up short in any respect? Now, cast aside your opinion. How would you be judged by those who know you the best – your friends, family and professional colleagues? Will they tell you – and can you handle the truth?
While each Principle noted may not be revolutionary in isolation, consider again the impact on your life if you were to consistently embrace everyone, every hour of every day – without exception, and starting right now.
This Includes Me
There are three constants in life . . . change, choice, and principles.
Honestly, it’s been a “work-in-progress” for me for many years, as I’ve learned from some of the best and some of the worst (people AND experiences) over time. But I can attest that the challenges and the results have been positively life-changing. I’ve learned that becoming a better version of one’s self is not simply a matter of changing your direction, but positively “influencing” the direction of those around you. Perhaps it’s the (unfortunate) prevailing mindset of the world we live in, but I’ve encountered far too many people who embrace skepticism as a way of life, boldly challenging many of the principles set forth above (e.g. genuinely questioning the credibility of authenticity?). And I’ve spent far too much time defending “doing the right thing” as compared to time invested in just doing it. Hope and persistence prevail though, because every now and then when someone really “gets it”, the experience can not only be profound but the impact both remarkable and contagious.
Bottom line; no matter where you fall within the concept of Authentegrity (apologies to Mr. Webster), come along for the journey for your benefit and the benefit of those you encounter both personally and professionally. Imagine the possibilities. Because it matters. Because you matter. Because they matter. And because in the words of Stephen Covey; “There are three constants in life . . . change, choice, and principles”.
Are you up to the challenge? For those of you who step up to the plate here, please come back and share your experience below …