It is holistic. It is integrated. It is grounded. It is action-oriented.
The four elements of the Chinese character for integrity break down into whole/balance, heart, action and eye—a way richer understanding than simply being honest and ethical per the American English definition.
Inspired by the Chinese character for integrity, this four-step approach is simple:
- Consider the whole – Step back to see connections and the big picture.
- Speak from the heart – Say what you mean, mean what you say.
- Do the right thing – Listen to what you know.
- Do it well – Make what you can, with what you’ve got.
A seminal moment in Founder and Lead Facilitator Julie Williams’ journey was during lunch with one of her mentors right after starting graduate school for strategic communications and journalism in 2007.
The topic of integrity came up while talking about the motivations for graduate school, frustrations with the lack of integrity in business and communications and likely eventual thesis project on the subject.
Her mentor recommended the obscure 1995 book, Piloting Through Chaos, by Julian Gresser, an attorney counseling about wise leadership and effective negotiation in the 21st century through a concept of integrity.
According to the author, the book was written for “people in business who seek to become more effective, but who will understand that one key is learning how to find greater joy, meaning and satisfaction in the work itself.”
Given her strong sense at the time of being called to communications work as the way to fulfill her life’s mission, this struck a chord.
It not only changed her outlook on the work, but on everything. It provided the keystone and the way – a confident answer to, is there a better way to live?
“There is. I call it ‘integrity.’ By integrity, I mean a sense of connectedness, coherence, wholeness, vitality. Integrity is the capacity of every living thing to maintain its hold in the face of entropy, disorder, uncertainty, its link to the living world, its ability to carry on its life, however humble…You know when you have integrity. You can feel it in your joints. You feel it as you breathe, you can feel it in your heart…when you are at ease and have a sense of time to spare, when you feel, as I am sure you often have, abundant and vital…At such times you have a sense of ‘just being’ in the flow, especially in action, and of a brighter, happier world growing within you.” – Julian Gresser, Piloting Through Chaos, page 9
Gresser presents the Chinese character of integrity as the best expression of this, breaking down its four elements: “Integrity is the state wherein the eye of discovery, logic and intelligence is in balance with the heart in action.”
One doesn’t have to be Buddhist, or even spiritual, to recognize the truth in these ideas.
In fact, at that point back in 2007, Julie’s spiritual roots had just started to branch out. For years, this concept echoed in her life, work and communication practice until one day during strategic planning for her budding consultancy business it clearly aligned into these guidelines.
Yes. Integrity was the way and this 4-step guide was the keystone, locking everything together.
Now, this framework guides everything – from Julie’s approach to facilitating strategy and training retreats to her decision-making process.
This is not a new concept, simply a new way to apply it to life, work, and communication. It is a gift to be shared here and everywhere.