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INTEGRITY. UNDERSTANDING YOUR HEAD TO LEAD FROM YOUR HEART.

A few days ago I was telling some friends that research is currently being conducted on the neuroscience of integrity. Which initiated a discussion around whether integrity can be ‘acquired’. The prevailing view was that someone is either ‘integrous’ (not a real word, I know), or they’re not.

That’s a bit black and white for me. It’s like saying someone is either born a leader. Or they’re not.

Working in the field of human development, that view would negate my very raison d’etre.

So it got me thinking …. And what I thought about was what I do and how I do it.

Most people enlist a coach because they want to change something. Or someone has suggested they change something. And that something is generally speaking, a behaviour – to listen better / be more assertive / treat people with respect / be more collaborative / be more trusting / be more authentic … it could be any number of behavioural skills.

So that’s what I do.

https://janinedanielsblog.wordpress.com

HOW BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE HAPPENS

How I do it is best described by enlisting the little man in the accompanying visual.

The change people want to see can generally be measured by a change in behaviour – because it’s the only part of the system that is external. But what I don’t do is work on the behaviour. You read that right.  The reason for this is that behaviour is simply the last visible sign in a series of thoughts and attitudes. Behaviour (what we say and what we do) is preceded by the way we think (and what we feel). And changing behaviour without changing thinking is only going to generate short-term change. So it would seem to make sense to work at the level of thought.

But it’s not enough. You see, what is needed is to go up even higher – to where we form our values, beliefs, attitudes, our cultural norms – our frames of meaning.  Because they determine our thinking. So if you wanted to exhibit integrity … to be more authentic, your behaviour would have to be congruent with your frames of meaning.

As a first step, you would need to unpack your head in order to examine your beliefs and values –to determine if they’re really yours. Secondly, to choose whether they’re really right for you. And if they’re not, to decide what your optimal beliefs are. This is the process of truly understanding yourself, of building self-awareness.

Then when you understand who you are, and you know what you really believe in, it becomes easier to think about things and take a stand. So often it is hard to act with integrity because we espouse values that are not really our own. And because we do things that we have been instructed to do – without really believing in the course of action.

On reflection, whilst integrity may be classified as a combination of cognitive and perceptual skills, and  by definition can thus be learned, I think more importantly, it is a consequence of having what the Dalai Lama calls ‘a solid sense of self’. As coaches, what we do is facilitate the discovery of that knowledge of self. What we ask of our clients is that they have the courage to go there and unpack their heads, examine what’s inside, decide whether it’s really meaningful – and if it’s not, change it. Or face the risk of behaving in accordance with someone else’s beliefs.

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Comments

  1. LOVE this

  2. I like it. Fits with my world view :)
    Unpack your head – like that term too.

  3. Sorry – me again. There is a yoga meditation called Anta Moun that fascilitates the ‘unpacking process’ because you have to watch your thoughts for 20 min’s. Its extraordinary what we have in our heads and most of it is ‘impressions’ that we collect in our day to day activities. I’m fascinated with your coaching and love the points of focus – great work xxx

  4. There is a big difference between behavioural change alone and attaining integrity. The strongest incentive to changing behaviour arises from personal dis-ease – either with self or based on feedback following interaction with the environment and the people therein. Integrity reflects both self-awareness together with a non-judgmental and integrated sensitivity of the extended environment and all therein. This non-judgmental, integrated sensitivity to the greater environment is currently being studied in the context of mirror neurons. Ultimately we’re striving to arive at a place of super-awareness – awareness of self, the extended environment and our meaningful and purposeful place therein.

  5. Aloise Price says:

    Very thought provoking – thank you Janine! A xx

Trackbacks

  1. […] For a great explanation of how the process actually works, see my blog post: Integrity.  Understanding Your Head to Lead from Your Heart. […]

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