My Integrity Gap…


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.

Neighborhood Map

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!




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8 responses to “My Integrity Gap…

  1. Michele Banks

    I LOVE your post….I will give much thought and action to my Integrity Gap!

  2. Great post, Kirk! I’m excited to hear stories of your neighbors! It’s definitely long haul work. It’s taken me 3 1/2 years of living on my street to get to know 15 or so neighbors.

    I’m not sure if there’s one for your neighborhood already, but my neighborhood of Madisonville in Cincinnati has a page. It’s a message board for community events, lost cats, invites, free fire wood, community council meeting notes, and the like. So far, people have upcycled computer desks to neighbors, hosted a progressive breakfast, shared bicycles, and stayed up date on road construction and crime alerts.

  3. This is great, Kirk – such a good discussion. Our friend Keenan Weller from LiveWorkPlay who does great things in Ottawa was telling me that they begin their team meetings with a go-round about what each of them might have done better to accomplish their common goal of inclusion. I’ve been thinking a lot about how hard it is to avoid this awful allergy to making mistakes – when, really, most of our learning is in the mistakes we make. And yet we’re so set on protecting people from making their own. I’m gonna reblog this! I trust that will be okay 🙂 and I hope it makes more people subscribe to your excellent blog.

    • Wow Aaron! Your words mean a lot! I’m constantly grappling with this issue, in a good way, and trying to wrap it into my practice and approach to life. Thank you so much for reposting! I want as many people to spread these discussions as possible and hopefully spark incredible talk and action! You rock Aaron!!


  4. Reblogged this on 101 Ways to Make Friends and commented:
    some great thoughts from our friends in San Diego on what we aspire to and what we settle for!

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