Let me tell you a true story about a young man I knew. He was in his early 20’s and was on his spiritual path. He had learned and grown a lot over the handful of years studying and practicing.
He was hungry for personal growth and was equally hungry to grow a business in the personal growth field with some partners.
He was becoming well-versed in spiritual practice and high-performance mindset work. He was advancing on the social ladder, gaining notoriety as a guide and mentor for others.
Everything seemed like it was going GREAT! And then, it wasn’t!
His partners found out that he was doing some shady financial stuff behind their backs. He had his justifications as to why he was doing it, but in the end, he owned up to being untruthful and completely out of integrity with his partners.
Once they found out, the project blew up, and he was booted from the team. Profound shame set in, so he completely stopped teaching, closed up his social media, and stopped being active in his community as he went through a painful healing process.
The BIG missing piece in all of his development was “high integrity.”
It’s so important to note that you can have a depth of spiritual awareness and become highly skilled in communication, manifestation, emotional intelligence, and personal growth teaching but still have a profound lack of integrity.
The fact that so many spiritual teachers and gurus have been exposed for ethical misconduct and abuses of power is a testament to this.
Integrity is everything!
When you think about cultivating new relationships, what kind of people do you want to be around?
Do you want relationships with people of high integrity or low integrity?
What about your doctor? Are you cool with them having low integrity?
What about your accountant, your new neighbor, or your sexual partner? Would you choose for them to be of high integrity or low integrity?
I think I already know the answer!
What traits in a man would make you want to know him, be in his presence, and feel at ease with him?
My guess is that there are a handful of important traits that would draw most of us in; kindness, authenticity, generosity, confidence, and integrity, to name a few.
But here’s the thing: a man can be kind and authentic, or generous and confident, but without a solid foundation of integrity, that man wouldn’t feel like a trustable enough person to share my heart with or open up about any of the intimate details of any part of my life.
All of the above traits are important, but without integrity and all that it entails, the others fall flat. For any man on the path, it is critical to understand that integrity is at the top of the list of traits to cultivate.
Without integrity, there is a huge gap and misalignment between where you are and your potential.
Wholeness and Honesty
Integrity springs from the wells of wholeness and honesty.
Integrity comes from the root Integer, meaning “wholeness, a thing complete unto itself, the quality or condition of being undivided. This is the first and foundational aspect of integrity.
We are born as whole beings, filled with basic human goodness and integrity. As we grow, we naturally enter into our ego development process, which includes being filled with ideas, conditioning, and concepts from our parents, religion, culture, TV, and society. All of these programs change how we see ourselves (our self-identity) and how we see the world.
Now, add in an entire childhood filled with wounds and traumas (even seemingly small ones), and we find ourselves becoming divided and living as a limited version of our once whole and complete state.
We essentially see the world and react to the world through our perceptual filters that have been filled with fear, shame, anger, disappointments, and sadness. How can we skillfully respond to life’s challenges when we have such a confused and blurry view of who we REALLY are and how we are supposed to be.
Most of the wounds, traumas, and conditioning are rooted so deep we cannot see them… That’s why we go to therapy, workshops, retreats, personal growth, and spiritual teachers.
We go there to support us in finding our way back to a sense of authentic peace, unconditional love, and living from a place of integration and integrity.
Our spiritual work, you could say, is to find our way back to wholeness and become more enlightened and compassionate people.
A person who is advanced on the path of wholeness naturally aligns themselves with truth and lets that guide them to live a life of high integrity.
Being a whole person doesn’t mean having perfect speech, thoughts, or behaviors. It means that you can recognize what needs your attention and return to an internal state of wholeness as a practice – NOT as a fixed destination without room for mistakes.
Being whole (undivided) requires a big dose of honest self-reflection, openness to change, self-love, and most importantly, a connection to something greater than just ourselves, be that mother nature, God, the universe, or the spirit of Love.
If you are fractured, traumatized, and so wounded that you are predominantly run by fear and lack, it then makes sense that you would lack integrity because these old scripts and programs are guiding you.
If you were so badly mistreated as a child that you had to lie just to survive, and you haven’t done enough healing work yet as an adult, it wouldn’t feel safe for you to trust life enough to live with high integrity.
When you are not guided by the wholeness of integrity, you suffer, you lie, you feel separate and disconnected from yourself and the universe. People with low integrity are more likely to try to manipulate life into being the way they want it to be, rather than being in a cooperative, flexible, loving relationship with life.
When we try to force life to be how we want it to be, we are living a reactive life rather than a responsive one. When we are reactive to life’s challenges and guided by our wounds and conditioning, we suffer more. When we no longer have access to our deeper truth, it’s no wonder that we feel like victims to life and spiral further into a non-integral life.
On our spiritual path to wholeness, we can be guided by a higher intuitive truth instead of trying to force people and situations to meet our preferences and aversions. We learn to rest in the truth of the moment, and we become aligned with truth which is Love itself.
The most pristine path to wholeness is to live a life hungry for growth and awakening. This is the only way to live as a man of authentic integrity. There is no fake it till you make it. It takes real work, and it’s filled with trials and tribulations. The rewards far outweigh the pain, and as a conscious man, you know it must be done!
The second aspect of integrity, which most people are more familiar with, is the quality of being honest, having soundness of moral principle and character, and adherence to a high ethical code.
This second aspect of integrity depends strongly on the first.
It’s crucial to understand both aspects because it illustrates how a depth of honesty and high moral character arise from being a whole, integrated and healthy human being.
Being a man of integrity does not mean you just ‘play by the rules.’ It is about being guided from a place of deeper knowing and connectivity to life. This gives you a more empathetic understanding of how your actions have an impact on others, as well as on yourself and in every area of your life.
A man of integrity has moral virtue because his actions come from a place of wholeness and integration. His actions align with his word (he does what he says he’ll do), and his actions are congruent with his highest values.
As the saying goes, “integrity is about doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”
Integrity is such a core piece on the conscious man’s path to personal power.
I tell guys in my programs all the time: you may accumulate skills in intimacy and relationship, mindfulness, and communication, but if you aren’t committed to a path of personal integrity, this work isn’t going to make any meaningful impact in your life.
Without a focus on integrity, we’re a ship without a rudder. If we aren’t driven by our own heart-centered integrity and values, we’re just blown around by the winds of our triggers and conditioning.
I say all of this as a student – not a master – of integrity.
Meaning being committed to my path of integrity doesn’t mean I’m perfect or never fuck up. It means I’m dedicated to continually examining myself, being open to feedback, recognizing when I’m out of integrity, and then taking the right action to restore balance.
Why is integrity so important for men?
Throughout time you will see countless examples of how honor and respect AND manhood and masculinity are intimately connected. In many great classic stories, the idea of lost honor equals lost manhood or masculinity. Honor is intricately related to integrity. If you’re a man of great integrity, then you’re an honorable man.
In all the classic hero’s journey and warrior stories, it is the man of irreparable integrity who is victorious and restores balance and love to the world.
This concept of being a man of high integrity is imprinted in our very DNA.
It is important to understand some of the key traits of masculinity. At the top of the list are directionality and leadership.
And in leadership, integrity is the most vital characteristic.
When we look at the work done in men’s groups, one of the core pieces of feedback that men get is about how trustable they feel to others. A man’s trustability is connected to his depth of integrity.
When a man embodies awakened leadership, you can see the shimmer of integrity that comes through from the depth of a man’s heart.
Integrity is trustability
Leading from your heart is not enough; you must have integrity to be trustable!
You can be a man with a big heart but still lack honesty. You can be a kind and loving man but still have covert (unconscious) plans brewing that lack sincere integrity.
As a man, it’s tough to admit when we are out of integrity. The pressure society and we ourselves put on “being a real man” has so much wounding attached. Not living up to our potential and/or the expectations of our family, friends (or ourselves) only adds to our denials of our integrity shortcomings. We don’t want to be judged as a lesser man, so we instinctively choose to deny or emotionally dissociate to avoid getting stuck in a downward spiral of negativity and shame.
No man enjoys being called out on his bullshit!
How many times have you had a partner or friend point out a crack in your integrity and gotten triggered and attacked them, or became emotionally disconnected and shut down?
Admitting when we are out of integrity is tough for men because it’s wounding to our pride. But we have to do the work to move through this trigger and be real and honest with ourselves.
What’s the alternative to the path of integrity?
There is no alternative to doing the work. You don’t want to go through life with leaky energy. Every breach of integrity in your life can cause an energy drain,, weighing you down, and perpetuating low confidence, moving you further out of alignment with your highest path of purpose and your highest values.
Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on your deepest values. It is a warrior’s journey of beauty and challenge. This worthwhile endeavor starts now!
To find out more about how this plays out in our lives as men and what we can do to restore our vitality and balance, click here to read part 2.