Integrity: Become The Author of Your Life
by S.E. SEVER Views: 4367
How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Or not feeling like doing something that you should be doing? Or even afraid to embark on particular tasks?
According to Remco Vrielink, Trainer and Coach at Creative Consciousness, these are the ‘viruses’ in our system. And there is only one way to deal with them: wipe your system clean.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey
I recently attended an extremely inspirational talk at the Quantified Self meeting in Berlin. The speaker, Remco Vrielink, touched on a problem that many people suffer from chronically but cannot even name, unable to pinpoint what they’re doing wrong. And even when they do, the words diminish the gravity of the problem. The topic Remco talked about was phrased in many different ways: time management, getting organised, work–life balance, productivity, keeping promises and so on. But Remco pushed away all these over-used clichés, and presented a fresh perspective to the problem. He named the solution “integrity”.
If you’re asking yourself how changing the name of a problem can help to solve it, just keep on reading, and you’ll understand how the weight of one word can do away with the majority of mayhem in your life.
SE: Hi, Remco. Thanks for joining us at the Mash blog. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your training history?
Remco: In October 2011 I took a training course with Creative Consciousness called Master I – A New State of Consciousness. The training focused heavily on integrity and asserted that integrity could help you to achieve your goals.
I was skeptical at first. I didn’t know what exactly they meant by “integrity”, and I didn’t understand how it could work. So I didn’t pay much attention to it. But a year later I had a big goal in mind, something which I really wanted to achieve. My goal was to qualify as a professional personal development trainer. But I had no idea how I was going to get there because I had zero background in training, teaching, presenting or public speaking. Besides, I was terrified of public speaking.
That’s when I thought, let’s see if this integrity thing really works, let’s put it to the test. I knew the world-renowned life coach, writer and speaker Anthony Robbins had also mentioned it, so I decided to give it a go.
S.E.: Sounds exciting! Before we dive into your journey, can you explain to us how integrity is defined in this context?
Remco: The definition of integrity is: To do what I said I would do by when I said I would do it.
So basically, to go through with all your commitments and promises.
The definition didn’t seem difficult; I thought, I can do that. When I looked into it further, I also learned that there is some philosophy, some principle behind it, and I began to study it at Creative Consciousness.
Integrity is based on the idea that you need to build it like a muscle. The higher your level of integrity, the more likely you are to achieve success.
To explain the principle behind integrity, I found the following analogy useful: imagine that you are a system, a computer. Your body and brain are the hardware and your mind and subconscious are the software. Your software consists of different programs. Working on your integrity is like creating a new program, or a new app in your system. This program, called integrity, runs consistently, is open at all times, and it says: I do what I promise.
Imagine if this program was always open in your system. It would be such a powerful basis on which to achieve any goal you set, right?
S.E.: But how do we create this new program?
Remco: Simple. You make promises and commitments, and simply fulfil them. These commitments can be made to you and to others; they don’t differ in value – they are all promises.
The more you fulfill your promises, the higher your level of integrity; therefore, the more powerful the program becomes. It goes like this: I promised, I did. I promised, I did. I promised, I did. That is how you build a new neural highway which becomes a program.
The stronger your integrity program, the more support you will receive with the next promise you make. Because something in you knows that you are a person who always does what they say.
S.E.: What happens when you can’t keep your promises? What happens if you miss a day or two and all your promises start to accumulate?
Remco: Ok, so this is how it works: each promise has a deadline – always specify this deadline when you make a promise.
For example, when I promise to call you tomorrow at 17:00 and I don’t do that, then that is the end of that promise. The promise has been ‘completed’, and the result is negative. That promise does not continue to linger around. You should now decide whether to recommit to it or not, e.g. I commit to call you a day later.
This should prevent your promises from accumulating, because each promise is given a particular time span.
One thing to remember is that “bigger” promises consume more time. So it’s a good idea to have a good look at your agenda to see if you’re able to fulfil that promise. To make sure that promises do not accumulate, or clash with other commitments, you’ve got to schedule it carefully.
And in time, you will find that you have more time than you think. You’ll see how much of your time is “wasted” on small and unnecessary things. As your integrity score increases, you’ll start working thousands of times more efficiently and effectively, because you won’t have all the trivial stuff bogging you down on a daily basis.
If you don’t do what you promise, that immediately weakens your program; it’s like a virus.
S.E. How about keeping the list of promises realistic? How do we know how many promises to make per day?
Remco: Keeping the list of promises realistic comes with experience. In the beginning it is not so easy to foresee how long something will take you, so you might overstretch yourself. In time, you’ll get more and more precise at predicting how long something will take you. After a couple of weeks you’ll have a good idea of what you are capable of achieving and in what sort of time span. And with more time, the opposite effect will begin to kick in: you’ll think something will take you an hour, but you’ll be able to fulfill that promise in 30 minutes.
With regards to the number of promises, it’s a choice that everyone has to make for themselves. A good friend of mine from Holland prefers the mornings, for example. He gets up at 06:00, works on a personal project for about 2 hours (script writing), and then goes to work. So when he arrives at the office, he already has some quality hours in his pocket; he prioritizes things that really matter to him.
I recommend to anyone that first they serve their main commitments in life before anything else. In the end, integrity is about making time while your mind says there is none. Start with commitments and promises that you are really passionate about, and attend to them first before turning to the ones that matter to you less. If you achieve 100% with all kinds of things at the end of the day, but didn’t spend any time on your biggest passion or goal, then what’s the point?
Integrity works best when you set a goal that matters to you. You should make a plan with smaller commitments to get there and then simply fulfil each and every one of them.
Even when you have a 9–5 job, you can create the time. It is up to us to decide what we spend our time on. It depends on how badly you want to achieve your goal.
S.E.: So, how should we go about this? Where should we start?
Remco: What I did – and still do – is this: every morning, I make my morning coffee, and sit down to write down 5 to 10 commitments, depending on how much time they require.
I also realized that what you take on should be about 20% outside of your comfort zone to really grow and build the muscle. So you have to challenge yourself a little bit. Not too much, not too little, just a sufficient amount to grow.
What is important here is to fulfill your promises, no matter what. I sometimes didn’t feel like it, or it was a difficult promise to fulfill. Nevertheless, I just did it, because I said I would; my goal was to have 100% integrity and fulfillment at the end of the day.
At the end of the day, you should sit down again, and track to what degree you fulfilled your commitments and calculate the percentage. That is your level of integrity.
You can also track your commitments per week, but I recommend doing it on a daily basis. It is easier to track and quantify this way. I was monitoring almost every day except for weekends, vacations and training days.
You should also schedule enough rest and vacation time to have a balance. Integrity is not just about execution and doing.
S.E.: And how did your integrity levels vary at the beginning, and over time?
Remco: It wasn’t so coherent at the beginning. Some days my integrity was around 40%, and other days it was 80%. But I noticed that, after some weeks, my level began to increase steadily.
As your “integrity muscle” gains strength, it becomes easier to fulfill your promises.
S.E. I had never thought that exercising one’s integrity would be possible. Is there anything else we can gain from this exercise?
Remco: Yes, there is. For example, when my level of integrity was high, I realised that I could achieve more with less effort. I had more energy, sharper focus and a pleasant sense of clarity.
I highly recommend that you test this yourself and see what you are capable of achieving when you up your level of integrity. You’ll discover just what becomes possible if you always do what you promise.
S.E: Thank you, Remco. Your approach has genuinely been an eye-opener for me. I hope that Mashers will also give it a go and use this technique to advance their careers and maintain a better balance of different aspects of their lives. Because writing is mostly a solitary occupation, it’s very easy for us to spend excessive amounts of time in front of our computers, or lost deep in books. I would also like to point out that if Mashers need further assistance, they can contact you via email, or simply leave a comment below. We’ll certainly keep in touch with you. Bye for now!
S.E. is the Founder of Mash Stories. She has had short stories published in fiction magazines across the US and the UK. One of her stories was included in The Subtopian: Selected Stories. Her poetry book, Before Me, is published by Thought Catalog Books, New York. She is currently working on a science fiction novel called Split Watch. You can read some of her short stories and poems at http://sesever.com.
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