Tag Archives: Integrity

Integrity Defined

When I was an F-15 maintenance group commander, a St Louis Air National Guard F-15 crashed because one of it’s four fuselage longerons broke, disintegrating the fuselage and ultimately sending the pilot on a wild ride without an aircraft (he survived with a broken arm).    I believe we grounded our jets for 57 days, using various techniques to evaluate the integrity of these longerons.  What we found was shocking.   Many of the longerons installed in F-15s were not fully in specification (some out of tolerance by 40%) based on 1970s milling issues.   Some of our jets were permanently grounded.

Integrity First – Is the first Core Value of the  US Air Force,  codified in 1997 by General Ronald Folgeman & Secretary Shiela Widnall.     I have contemplated and studied it both in and out of the Air Force, and frankly,  surprisingly, I think they got it right AND wrong at the same time.    Integrity is first but not as defined in the little blue book (AF Core Value Book).

I believe that Integrity is the most important distinction in leadership.  Integrity is the universal truth that defines effective activity from the misaligned.   Integrity is… the coop de grace, it is the holy grail.   It is the “BE” all..

However, it is not “having integrity” that makes us human, it is “not having integrity” that makes us human.   A play on words that is the struggle of most organizations and activities involving us people … or teenagers (sorry, editorial inclusion as I have four teenagers).

OK – a bit of a prelude to many foreseen blog discussions around integrity.   But this blog entry is a stage-setter.  It is the foundation of my leadership syllabus and defines, for me, why I am here (i.e. my integrity).   I request your feedback as you contemplate integrity in your life.

Definitions include complementary ideas like being honest, being of great character, doing the “right” thing, aligning our actions with our words, or honoring our agreements and commitments.    I am not saying that integrity is or is not these things, but integrity is not moral or ethical, it just is…

I believe that integrity means acting in alignment with ones highest purpose of BEing.

It is not that honesty and integrity aren’t similar.   Telling the truth has an ethical implication regarding our words.     Integrity has an fundamental implication that we are living our truth with our actions. Here is a philosophical question, if the “Devil” is the great deceiver, is he is in or out of integrity when deceiving and spreading lies?   My definition would say he is integrity and expecting him to be honest would be foolhardy.

That is the bane of leadership.   How do I keep my organization (or my person) acting in alignment with its integrity/purpose?    That leads to the challenge of leadership.   Who am I (what is my purpose) and What am I currently doing?   (where am I misaligned with my purpose).   When we understand those two positions, then we can act in leadership to realign them.   Thus leadership is ultimately realigning our activities with that which in which we were created.  (I’m talking an organization, but there is certainly a spiritual play here).

To close, imagine that longeron which was designed to maintain loads up to 12 G-forces before breaking.     But if it was actually built it 40% thinner than designed, it is out of integrity with the expected 12-G loads.   Luckily, other factors in the F-15 design limited it to a 9-G aircraft.    And for that reason, the longeron hung in there for as much as 20 years, bending and cracking and fighting to do its job until it couldn’t take it any more.   And once it broke, the accompanying forces destroyed this aircraft and grounded many more.

Where in our lives do we live outside of our integrity.   Bon-bons on the couch?  How about escapism, addictions, pornography, etc.?   Are there stresses and cracks growing in your life or that of your organization that are going to bring it all down?

Like a longeron, living in integrity, is THE critical component to ensure the effectiveness of our well-being and the organizations we serve.

Live in your Truth!



Just Say Yes

OK – this weekend I finished a blog about the importance of saying NO.    So, God has to shake it up, and put someone else’s blog into my email today about the power of saying “YES”.    Never one to deny serendipity, I feel it is importance to acknowledge my appreciation of the importance  of saying YES.

The blog I received was from LANDMARK Insights… and I quote as follows:

“Yes” extends boundaries, establishes new playing fields, moves possibility from ideas to actuality. Actress and improv artist Tina Fey points to the opportunity yes affords us when she says, “the first rule of improv is agree—agree with whatever your partner has created. The second rule is yes, and—agree and then add something of your own. If I start a scene with ‘I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,’ and you just say, ‘Yeah…’ we’re kind of at a standstill. But if I say, ‘I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,’ and you say, ‘Yes, it can’t be good for the wax figures,’ now we’re getting somewhere.” 

So how do I reconcile saying YES, while not putting myself into a productivity drain, or by saying NO, and not leaving me “wanting.”

I believe the answer remains, as discussed in the previous blog, that my decision to say YES or NO must come from alignment with my integrity (alignment of intentions or alignment with my highest purpose).

I must understand my values, vision, mission, goals and objectives and overall intention in the world.    This “strategic guidance” for our lives (or businesses) ensures focused productivity and then guides me to say YES or NO from a place of strength.

Because, when I say YES, it is an agreement, a commitment, a responsibility that reflects upon my character and requires my action and follow through.    Saying YES is saying I commit to you this action and I will stand by it.

As I discuss with my son, it is only my actions that tell my story and not the words I use.   Therefore, saying YES or NO to you is an insight to who I am.

But to end, I must acknowledge that many times I say NO to avoid leaving my comfort zone and hide.   Saying YES in that regard is really saying, step into your fear, make room for possibility, live life to the fullest, take a chance.   And although I agree with all of these wholeheartedly, saying YES or NO is about being alignment with all of who I am.

Blessings – Pierre


Just Say No

Two days ago, Matt Prater, the Denver Bronco’s clutch kicker was released.  Matt Prater holds the record for the longest field goal in NFL history and was nearly perfect last year, only missing one field goal.   Last year, in an intra-divisional rivalry game, Matt Prater secured a game winning field goal after San Diego’s Nick Novak missed a 53 yard field goal.   Matt Prater was 21 of 27 attempts outside of 50 yards over his entire career.   Matt Prater was set to make $2.1M this year the fourth most in the NFL (over Adam Vinatiere, who one Super Bowl 2003 for New England).   Matt is out of a job, because he couldn’t say No!

Almost all personal and business productivity discussions include a the importance of learning to say “no”.   It should be easy.    I’ve been desperately trying to tell other people NO since I was born.   But this is no easy task, why?

My coach and longtime friend reminded me that some of my best character traits are related to saying yes.   I want to make a difference in the world.   I see opportunities that may develop into possibilities.   I want to cultivate new and budding relationships and deepen old ones.  I care and want to provide empathy to others.    To me, saying YES means getting things done!

However, on the darker side, my shadow is in play.   I say YES because I’m fearful that I might miss lucking into a big reward, or miss a chance to be recognized as worthy by others.   I am fearful that saying NO might make other think less of me.   Frankly, I’m ashamed if I’m not seen as good enough.

Therefore, I say “yes” to investment opportunities, coffee meetings, errands, following internet rabbit holes, and worse of all, time-share promises; most of which suck my productivity, time or energy out of me.

So, how can I say NO, when pushing against all of these challenges.

Of course, like everything, it means living in truth, truth to my integrity, purpose, or “God’s will for my life.”   Every and any organization (individuals included) need to have a visceral understanding of their aligned purpose.  Understanding operating values, intentions (both strategic and tactical) mission and vision provide structures for what we should do AND what we shouldn’t do.

For example, my mission is to create a world of transformation through supporting the transformation of myself and others.   In 2014, that meant being holistically fit, leading my company, and loving my family.    Recently, a great equity investment opportunity was presented to my company.   Our company has a carefully crafted allocation strategy to manage risk and return.    This investment was not aligned with our current strategy; and after much consternation,  I said NO.   I felt bad.  I might have missed the next “Facebook.”  But, when peaking into my gut, it felt aligned.    Consciously weighing decisions against our integrity (purpose) creates a simple framework to say yes or no.

So back to Matt Prater.   My guess is Matt Prater’s purpose was to be the most consistent kicker in the NFL, a pro-bowler and maybe even a hall-of-famer.    After a previous substance abuse issue with the NFL, Matt made an agreement (whether fair or not), that he would not drink alcohol or be suspended.    As the media has portrayed, Matt said YES to a beer during the off-season, and then tested positive for blood alcohol, was suspended for four weeks, and ultimately lost his job with one of the best football franchises in the NFL.

Without a framework to weigh the consequences of our choices, it probably was easy for Matt to grab a beer from the refrigerator and say, sure, no big deal.   But if he could have weighed it against his integrity, maybe he could have said NO (addiction challenges aside).

I’m sad for Matt Prater, I’m sad for the Broncos, and I’m sad for the million times I’ve regretted saying YES to something that stole my time, energy, and dreams.    Build the framework and live from integrity, and saying NO becomes easier.

Blessings – Pierre