Back in January 2013, while facilitating a workshop in Scotland with Beth Gallagher, Peter Leidy, Heather Simmons and our lovely hosts from EDG (Linda Keys, Stephen Coulson, Helen Wright), the concept of our Integrity Gap smacked me across the face. Presented to Heather by John O’Brien a few months prior to the workshop, she decided to share it and pay it forward to our group. Ever since learning about this concept, we’ve been sharing it with our employees in San Diego with Life Works at orientation and with others we run into while facilitating workshops wherever we travel.
The Integrity Gap is defined as this: The space between what we say we believe in and what we actually do. Think about that. For me personally, it is a space I’ve been intentional about being mindful of for a couple of years now. When Heather brought it up in January, it gave what I have been grappling with a name. Allow me to explain…
I am guilty of long rants of philosophically driven soliloquies on community and connection in my personal life, as well as within our agency. We talk about getting the people we support involved in their own lives and communities as a means of enhancing their lives. About a year and a half ago, I started to wonder why people still weren’t as connected as I hoped. We talk about it all the time, yet people still live semi-isolated lives. I looked in the mirror and realized, and now since I have a name for it, perhaps it is partially due to my own Integrity Gap.
All this time I’ve been talking to people about being connected to their communities and neighbors, and I hardly knew my own community and neighbors. First step: acknowledge the Integrity Gap. Second step: Do something about it! I immersed myself in literature about community. I’ve been blessed to learn from amazing people all over the world, and further, be in relationship with people around the world who embrace this connecting as a practice. This global network of brilliance feeds my spirit and passion on a daily basis. This blog, which I am honored to share with Linda Keys, is dedicated to the exploration of connection and welcoming as a practice in our personal lives.
I’ve started a neighborhood map (featured here early on in our adventure), where I am intentionally meeting people, one conversation at a time, and I struggle to this day with doing this consistently. As Tim Vogt once told me, this is 100-year work. Understanding timelines don’t matter, rather, make it a practice, a way to approach life, provides my life with a richness, a fullness I’ve been telling people existed, but now am actually experiencing. It may seem daunting. It may seem scary. Who is that aloof guy up the block with the unkempt lawn? Ask yourself ‘Do I know his name? Do I know his story?’ Fear drives our actions all too often…it is where we our society, in my estimation, operates from too often. I want to crush that notion with love. My aim is to come from a place of love at all times. Let’s embrace the idea that we all belong to each other…we all need each other. We are truly better together.
We all have Integrity Gaps. Acknowledge that gap. Do something about it. In a recent article I read, the author talks about people having ‘authenticity radar’. I love this. If you aren’t paying attention to your Integrity Gap, others are and will know if you are authentic. Now when teaching others, my hope is that the authenticity behind it begins to make a real difference in people’s lives, including my children. I want them to grow up with the notion that we should truly love and accept each other. Our humanity thrives when we love each other.
Oh, and to those of you reading this, I appreciate you putting up with another long, philosophical rant!