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My 2020 Integrity Report

This week’s essay is my 2020 Integrity Report. The purpose of the report, modeled after James Clear’s report of the same name, is to think about how I live out my core values and beliefs in day-to-day living. I want to hold myself accountable for my interactions and attitudes in a reflective space.

The report is meant to understand, document, and reflect on how I’m working towards a higher standard in work and life. Why integrity? Integrity statements have to be signed at school, people are asked to be role models with integrity, etc. Oxford defines integrity as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

Integrity as a nebulous idea is fairly easy; it’s harder in the day-to-day. How have I been living out my core values?

My hope is to publish a yearly Integrity Report towards the end of each year as people gather in families for Thanksgiving, days get short, and the time is ripe for reflection.

There are three questions I will answer in this Integrity Report.

  1. What are the core values that drive my life and work?

  2. How am I living and working with integrity right now?

  3. How can I set a higher standard in the future?

What are the core values that drive my life and work?

My core values are defined in my Life Resume. My core values have undergone slight tweaks over the last couple of years but are made up of the same general themes of persistence and learning. The questions following each core value inspire me to think more deeply about living out the value. You can think about your own values and use this list as well as this one for inspiration.

I. Growth (Learning, Habits, and Taking Action)

  • Am I learning new things, improving beliefs and thoughts, and exploring new places?

  • Am I setting a higher standard in my work and my life?

  • Am I building habits that lead to continual improvement?

II. Contribution (Accountability, Additions, Giving Gifts)

  • Am I contributing to the world or just consuming it?

  • Am I offering my gifts to others?

  • Am I helping to make things better for others?

III. Loyalty (Trust, Commitment)

  • Am I standing by my choices when faced with obstacles?

  • Am I trustworthy?

  • Am I authentic in my interactions?

IV. Community (Inviting, Safe Spaces, Beneficial)

  • Am I creating inviting places for others?

  • Am I an active participant in the communities?

  • Am I conscious about being a leader in the communities?

How am I living and working with integrity right now?

“Networking”. I’ve been active about staying in touch with friends during the pandemic. I’ve reached out to more strangers than any year before: professionally, personally, or to listen and learn. Over 2020, I’ve developed a new sense of community structured around many new faces and journeys.

It’s not networking in the literal sense. I’ve consciously chosen to follow a path of learning, communicating, and connecting while being my true authentic self. There have been lessons, losses, and leaps. Lots of handwritten letters. Who doesn’t love receiving a letter?! And with all, there has been growth.

Consciously contributing and sharing. Just as mentors have guided me and shared knowledge, insights, documents, and everything else that has helped me, I’ve contributed and shared my thoughts and insights. This year I participated on panels for TEA@ND, spoke about engineering and design at a summer learning session, shared thoughts on LinkedIn, visited campus to guide current engineers in the entertainment industry, mentored a new hire, organized a personal development class, started a biweekly book club, and led group workouts.

And started this newsletter! These were all efforts to share what I’ve learned and then contribute to whoever it may help, and whoever will listen.

Sticking to commitments. As time passes and priorities change, an important lesson I continue to learn is learning when to say no. Not out of fear. But every yes to something is a no to something else, everything else, during that time period dedicated to the yes. Saying no thankfully isn’t a habit, and I’m at the point in life when saying yes has developed into opportunities, friendships, and work. Even some barn hockey. But I’ve focused on being committed to the work, family, meetings, and coaching obligations that are current priorities.

Opening up to hear new viewpoints. This is something that is continuously a work in progress. During the chaos of 2020, some of the brightest moments have come from small instances of empathy. The challenge is accepting that based on what someone believes, wants, and knows, they are making a good decision or doing the right thing. The practice of asking why has been a success this year.

How can I set a higher standard in the future?

This is where the masks come off. Where have I come up short in my integrity examination?

Communicate others’ importance. Out loud. Be clear upfront about the value people bring to the table. Thank them and mention the precise contribution. Creating a space that accepts and encourages that kind of dialogue is a superpower and changes the atmosphere in the room (or on the Zoom call). I often hastily jump to the business at hand. A leader appreciates each person in the room.

Stop acting like a victim. This year has a built-in excuse: I can’t because of the pandemic. I’ve been resting on that excuse rather than taking matters into my own hands. If I take stock of my life, there are areas that have flown under the radar of responsibility; achieving the level of integrity I expect of myself requires taking responsibility for all those aspects of my life.

Thrash early. Thrashing is the brainstorming and tweaking needed as a project develops. Seth Godin insists on thrashing early because that is when it’s easy and cheap. Professionals thrash early and then they get to work so as to ship with top quality and pride. Thrash early, and let the right stakeholders have input. I thrash too late with some projects and goals for them to be successful. Stay tuned for my Circle Three thrash in a few weeks.

The Bottom Line

Integrity lies within. This Integrity Report is an attempt to externally hold myself accountable. Major lapses in integrity don’t happen often, but slight deviations from values can add up. The danger is recognizing late. The answer is making small steps to improve.

The report is a commitment to level up, lead, and live out this next year with integrity. Thanks for reading.


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