The Integrity Gap Part 2

Slipping into the Integrity Gap:
Working from Realistic Expectations

In the first article in this series, I discussed how we can fall into the “yes” trap and how that creates the inability to fulfill all of our promises. Once we understand how this psychological trap operates, we can begin to remedy the problem.

If each of us is in jeopardy of not discharging all our promises in the process of handling our business, family and personal tasks, how can we approach the situation? The answer is to prioritize our commitments in an integrative approach. Before we begin to rank our tasks, we must determine what is meant by an integrative approach. Then, we can look at a couple strategies to work with priorities and apply these to head off future integrity gap difficulties.

Integrity is an interesting word referring to structural soundness, honesty, wholeness and what is crucial. In looking at what is common in all these definitions, the essence of “integrative approach” becomes clear. This term must be inclusive of all our life roles, be derived from a trusting and respectful perspective and provide a resilient system. An integrative answer also should address the root cause of the problem. Any useful strategies would have to meet all these requirements.

We play roles as parents, family members and in the community as well as business people. Often the conflicts in commitments stem from the competition of these responsibilities. Who hasn’t been caught between commitments to family and your business, between work and personal priorities? How can these be resolved when there are only so many hours in the day?

Our need to be honest in our dealings with others is paramount to most people. Your word is your bond. We tire of headlines pointing to this weakness in our leaders in business, politics and in our communities. Honor is a lost concept in the public realm; yet, most of us operate with this type of character everyday.

Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a method to support our desires to live in near-perfect integrity? What if there was a simple way to overcome the challenge of not meeting all our responsibilities? Although most of us are quite successful, I find it interesting that the promises I break continue to haunt me in many cases long after the person I let down has dismissed the incident.

Finally what is the root of the problem that results in our inability to keep all our promises? Of course, since we are not perfect, expecting 100% completion is unrealistic. However, the cause runs deeper. Along with the “yes” trap, we tend to over-commit on our own. With no help from others, we find that overburden ourselves with activity.

Why in the world do we do this? Perhaps to get some perspective we should look at our schedules. Few of us afford ourselves the luxury of taking a few minutes for ourselves before the day gets going. As a result, we “forget” or “don’t get” what’s already on the docket. Then, we take care of the crises that perennially pop up around us and go to meetings, read e-mail and do the other thousand tasks without thinking about the time each takes. Each of us also may find a diversion or two to take our minds off of the mounting list of tasks. The higher the pile the greater the inclination to extend the diversion. An extension of this is falling into the procrastination trap.