Has anyone ever flaked out on you? Do you have friends who say they’ll help out, be there, do something, and then they don’t? I call them “50:50 no-shows” and sometimes I think I’m being a bit too generous. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and disheartening to someone like me who’s always done my best to show up.
Long before I read “The Four Agreements,” I understood the first principle of that book, which is to “be impeccable with your word.” That means integrity, and I’m afraid the concept isn’t practiced as much as it used to be. Like being on endless hold with my cable company (I’m not going to name names, but it rhymes with socks), listening to their crappy music replete with intermittent interruptions to say “your call is very important to us.” I don’t think so. And why then, was I surprised when I called the trash company to ask about their bulk pick-up dates and a real human being answered the customer service line on the second ring and was actually pleasant and helpful? Have we come to a point in time when integrity is unusual?
I’m willing to cut my flaky friend some slack. She had the best of intentions when she committed to bringing the wine to our book club, however when the day arrived, she cancelled, and I had to make an emergency run to the liquor store when I had way too much else to do. Why did she flake? Was she having a bad day? Or was she passively-aggressively trying to end our friendship? If she was feeling nervous, depressed, or stressed about anything other than the book club, she should be treated with understanding and compassion. On the other hand, if she wanted to break up with the book club (or with me), she could have done so with integrity.
Dictionary.com defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” While the word “honesty” has a straight forward imeaning, I believe that “morals” and “ethics” are subjective. So let’s leave morals and ethics out of this discussion and concentrate solely on honesty. Which leads me to wonder why do some people lack integrity?
My answer has to do with intentions. When I commit to volunteering every Tuesday night, it is with the full intention that I will be there every Tuesday night. It is also with the utmost integrity that I make the commitment because I am, first and foremost, being honest with myself. I can and will be there every Tuesday night. It seems to me that the flaky people we deal with, sometimes on a daily basis, might actually have a problem being honest with themselves. As recipients of their flakiness, we generally dismiss the person without attempting to dig deeper into the underlying cause.
At the end of the day, the only person whose integrity I can control is my own. And I do so by carefully choosing my words. Do you?