I spent last weekend in New York City (NYC), I was attending a leaders course in Manhattan with 350 of the eastern seaboard’s most brilliant, inspirational beings, like no kidding – this powerful group is up to big things!
While we were out and about enjoying our lunch break, we spent some time walking about Madison Square Garden, walked up to the Chelsea High-line and had a awesome chat about “getting your life” in front of The Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick. During our strolls, however, I couldn’t help but to notice all of the refuse that littered the ground. Like, it was everywhere and I could’t help to think that all of this trash was caused by “civilized” human beings. And, to be frank, it infuriated me.
And then I got to thinking about the different places I’ve had the pleasure of traveling and about the different cultures, the way we all live our lives.
I visited Japan 2 years ago and I tell you (if you haven’t been), it’s one of the cleanest, most organized, respectful places to visit, and live apparently. I have two friends who live in Japan and the love it – they are both Canadian – and they both suggest we have a lot to learn about different issues of our Western societies.
This is what my friend Linda has to say – she lives in Mitaka, a suburb of Tokyo.
“Living in Tokyo Japan for over 2 years and it still surprises me that a city of over 35M is so clean with such a big focus on recycling. Similar to most residents, I often carry my recycling back home with me for proper disposal, and as a foreigner still learning the Japanese language, I have received notices from the recycling officers when my recycling doesn’t meet the proper standards. I am grateful to be living in this beautiful country”.
I don’t understand why people litter, honestly I don’t, it’s just not necessary. And, I’m not making anyone wrong here, I’m looking more for what’s missing, rather than what’s wrong.
Could it be a lack of integrity?
So what is integrity? The Cambridge Dictionary’s definition is:
- in·teg·ri·ty : “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness: “he is known to be a man of integrity”
Could it be the level of integrity in which we operate in life? Could that be out? Of course it can be! And, what I’m really present to is that WITHOUT INTEGRITY NOTHING WORKS! Literally, nothing works! Now, integrity is not morality nor is it ethical – they are not colapsable.
I started taking a hard look at the level of my integrity, I always viewed myself as a rather integrous person. I always try keep my word and when I can’t keep it, I try to honour by letting the person know ASAP that I cannot keep it. I’m never late (my philosophy is that if you’re on time, you’re late) and people have always said that they can count on me to be there. I’ve always made that a priority in my life, then I started looking at what’s missing – where is my integrity out? And, I had to actually say to myself “Self, admit it you have no integrity” and I was like boom – face slap!
I got real with myself, confronted myself with some real truths — for example, I am pro-environment yet I still continued to use plastic utensils and don’t use carry a reusable coffee cups = lack of integrity. I had a terrible falling out with a friend, because I was a drunken twerp last year and took MY crap out on her and I never got complete with that. I never called her to apologize, I sent her a quick text and then left the friendship slide, complete lack of integrity. I had convinced myself that these things were fine, and that I was ok with it.
Everywhere I looked I came to see that I had things I needed to clean up with people in my life and what that allowed me to do was have true authentic conversations about where I was out of integrity and being really committed to cleaning up the “messes” the better I felt – like a weight had been lifted off of me. I started by apologizing to people, by connecting with people I had lost contact with, by buying reusable bamboo cutlery and napkin and keeping them in my purse (I also gave a set to a friend of mine – and enrolled 2 other friends to start using bamboo or carrying their own metal cutler. Another friend agreed to purchase bamboo toothbrushes). I literally started restoring integrity with velocity. Folks, I literally have never loved being so wrong (to be clear my actions were wrong, I wasn’t making myself wrong and holding onto it) LOL – it really was empowering to get complete with things.
And, you know what I got out of cleaning up this LACK OF INTEGRITY? I really got the impact on the other person, I really got to see what it was like over there with them. And when you really get to get what’s it’s like for someone else, it’s empowering and you start to change the way you want to behave.
“An important aspect of my word to myself is my word to others. For example, when I give my word to someone to meet them at a given time tomorrow, in effect I have also given my word to myself to be there tomorrow at the appointed time and place. Likewise with any time I give my word to others, I have also given my word to myself to be good for my word.
If I hold myself up as a person of integrity and do not honor my word to myself, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to be in integrity with others”.
~ Werner Erhard
So, What Does Lack of Integrity Have to do With Littering?
Everything! Integrity is what you do when no one’s watching. It’s when you do what’s right, even when it’s difficult. It’s in taking a stand for what you believe in. It’s throwing your trash in the litter bin. It’s recycling your bottles, paper cups and newspapers. It’s in taking your trash home when there isn’t anywhere to properly dispose of them. It’s in picking up the trash when you are able, tidying the public washrooms counter before leaving them and by leaving the people you talk to better than when you met them — it’s about being an extra ordinary human being!
📷: from last weekend in NYC
And, just like that, without even realizing it – I managed to intertwine two of the things I love and that I’m passionate about – integrity and the environment – and the ability to be fully self expressed! WOW!
What would your life look like in the space of living a life of more integrity?
How freaking powerful of a human being would you be?
Who are you going to go clean up with right now?
Oh, and PS: as human beings, we’re never 100% in integrity – there’s always somewhere in our lives that integrity is out or missing. The difference is, we can always live life more integrously.