Good day, team.
This week’s challenge is about integrity. What does it mean to be a person who has integrity? In my mind, it’s when our external actions match our internal values — what we do and how we behave reflect what’s most important to us. The following is a description of what I mean and the basis for this week’s challenge.
As we’ve all seen, the real estate market in the past few years has challenged anyone who owns property. Because of the rapid decline in property values, many people have had to sell their homes for much less than what they purchased them for. In many cases, people have just walked away from their mortgages simply because they couldn’t sell and didn’t have the money to continue to pay the mortgage. Foreclosures and short sales are a daily occurrence.
A friend of mine bought his first home about six months before he got married. He had a good job with lots of career potential. The house was small, but it was in an excellent neighborhood where they were pretty sure property values would increase over time. My friend’s wife became pregnant shortly after they married. In thinking about the birth, they decided to move closer to his family so that everyone would get to know and enjoy the first grandchild, and his company was willing to transfer him to another position in his home town. The move was a strong indication of his core values. Family was important to him and taking a lesser job just to get back to family was a good demonstration of his integrity.
However, the real estate market had begun to decline and their house had some problems. They couldn’t sell it, so they decided to keep it as a rental property to cover the mortgage and purchase another house in his hometown to live in. Now my friend had the stress of paying two mortgages, plus taxes and all the maintenance expenses that come with owning a home.
The stress continued over the next four years, during which my friend and his wife had another child. My friend’s job situation was pretty stagnant, which was not helping. He decided to take a job with another company in his hometown. He did well in this position, and the company offered him a better job in another city. My friend and his wife had to consider moving the family across the country away from his family. By now, the children had solid relationships with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and extended family. Much of what he hoped his children would experience with his family had occurred. So he decided to take the new job and move his family. I saw this as another display of his integrity. He let his family know that the first move was for family. The next move, when one occurred, would be about career. With a growing family, he had to think about his career progression to be able to provide for them.
The move meant selling the house in his hometown, which was no small feat. The real estate market was at it’s worst. For many months, he had to travel back and forth across the country each week to see his family while he worked at his new job. Eventually the house sold, and they bought a new home in the new city. During this time, he still owned the original house, which was rented by various people over the years, some good and some not so good.
Now comes the true test of integrity. The current renters have decided they want to buy the original house, but at a much lower price than my friend’s mortgage. My friend will have to spend much of his savings to make the deal go through. He could have let the house go a long time ago and been out from underneath that mortgage and responsibility. But, he would have had a hard time living with himself if he had done this. As long as he could manage to pay the two mortgages, he continued to do so. Now, he’s dealing with the dilemma of finally selling the house and spending his savings to cover a short sale or just letting it go into foreclosure.
I know him well enough to know that he will do what allows him to stay in alignment with his inner values and ethics. His situation reminds me of how our personal integrity is tested throughout our lives and how important it is for us to pay attention when this happens. It’s the dilemma of doing what we know is right versus what’s easiest or taking the short cut out of an obligation. Sometimes, we don’t have many choices, and we have to do the only thing we can do. But, when we do have the choice, siding with our inner guide is as important as anything we can do in our lives. Most regrets are born from experiences where we didn’t follow our intuition; our heart and head told us what was right and we did something else instead.
This week, look at your actions and see if they’re in alignment with your inner values. Do you walk your talk? If you say something is important, do you express that in your actions and behaviors? Are you stuck in a situation where you’ve been asked to do something that goes against what you think is right? If you say your family is important to you, does the way you live your life reflect that? Are you willing to say no to someone if they ask you to do something that goes against your true nature? How do you stay in integrity in your life?
As Ovid, the ancient Roman poet and author wrote;
“No man can purchase his virtue too dear, for it is the only thing whose value must ever increase with the price it has cost us. Our integrity is never worth so much as when we have parted with our all to keep it.”
Have a good week!
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