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integrity

Integrity Builds Trust

Great Ranches of the West by Jim Keen tells the story of Pete Bonds of the Bonds Ranch in Texas.  The high-tech ranch, made up of several different ranches stretches across a 200-mile radius from the headquarters. It is big business in every sense of the word.  Raising thousands of head of cattle and operating hundreds of gas wells requires many computers, a large number of people and much state-of-the-art communication.

I like to deal with honest people,” Pete says.  He and a man named Preston quibbled for weeks on the price of a prize-winning, 2,800-pound bull Pete had up for sale. Preston was known for driving a hard bargain, and the two were $16,000 apart in their negotiations.  As previous deals with Preston had stretched beyond a two-week span, Pete became exasperated over the current back-and-forth conversations.  So he proposed, “Look, Preston, we’re not going to haggle over this forever.  Let’s flip a coin.  Heads, we go with my price.  Tails, we go with yours.”
Preston replied, “Only if we can use my quarter.”  Pete agreed, and Preston flipped his quarter.  “Shoot,” Preston said, “You win, Pete.  So, okay, I’ll pay you the extra sixteen thousand.”  And so he did.  Now here’s the punchline that makes Pete grin. The coin-flipping conversation took place over the phone.  Pete was in Texas while Preston and his quarter were in Colorado!

The White House, Capitol Hill, the church, the sports arena have all been hit hard by scandal.  The lack of credibility can be traced back to the level of integrity of the individuals within those institutions.  John Maxwell says that integrity is not what we do so much as who we are.  It seems very obvious that Pete knows who Preston is at his very core.

 As I read this story, I challenge myself with these questions:  Have you compromised the truth in any way?  What have you made excuses about today?  Did you exaggerate or stretch the facts this past week?   You see everything in me wants to have the integrity of Preston.  But I know how easy it is to be someone else when no one is looking.  Integrity is the very thing we all want in the person on the other end of the phone or business deal.  The best place to start is with ourselves.  Integrity is not something you either have or don’t have, it’s a journey of growth that you choose to engage in.  A great place to start is by asking yourself: do I want the person on the other side of the table to treat me the way I’ve treated him?  If you don’t get a resounding YES, then something needs to change.

 

Upgrade Thinking

The EPIC baseball game Sunday afternoon left us all excited, entertained and life-long Ranger fans.  It also left me thinking of two players.  Not the player who accidentally, intentionally slid into a baseman hoping to take him out.  Not the player who hauled off and slugged his nemesis in the jaw.  Not the pitchers who did or didn’t hit the batters on purpose. Not any of the many players (was it 8 in total) who were ejected from the game.  Instead, I find myself smiling about the two players (I’m sure there were more) who were intentionally working at restoring order.  One grabbed a player who had lost complete control of himself and held on to him until order was restored.  Another kept a coach in check, with the desire to save him from falling of the cliff into destructive behavior.  In the middle of total mayhem, neither of these guys ever lost their cool, made knee jerk decisions, or followed the crowd.  (Thanks, Beltre and Fielder.)

When you think of all the different players in that EPIC baseball brawl, which would you follow?  Following someone and being a fan of them are two completely different things. Who would you trust your daughters with?  Or your money? Your business?  The men who demonstrated integrity on the field, are the same ones conducting their lives with integrity.  D. L. Moody, the late, great American evangelist known for saying, “Character is what you are in the dark” was asked by a reporter, which people gave him the most trouble.  Moody said, “I’ve had more trouble with D.L. Moody than any man alive.”  

All great leaders understand that their number one responsibility is their own self-control.    

Just following WWII, Napoleon Hill witnessed a long line of angry, disgruntled women in a large department store in Chicago.  The young woman behind the desk received each woman without any hint of frustration. After they had lambasted her with irate words and attitude, she directed them with a smile on her face to the resolution for their complaint.  Hill marveled at her self- control.  Standing just behind her was another young woman making notations on slips of paper and placing them in front of her.  Each note contained the gist of what the women were saying (without any of the anger).  The smiling woman who was receiving the complaints was deaf.  The manager told Hill he couldn’t find anyone with enough self-control for that position until he made this arrangement.  

Self-control is solely a matter of controlling your own thoughts.  The only thing you have complete control over are your thoughts.  Thought is your most important tool.  It boils down to this: deliberately put in your mind the kind of thoughts you want there and keep out the thoughts you don’t want there (even in the middle of a brawl or a long line of complainers).  Yes, it’s true they said something rude; so why do you keep thinking about it?  Yes, it’s true they misbehaved; so why do you allow that to cloud your thoughts?  People of wisdom guard their mind and, as a result, their conversations.  Nothing good comes from uninvited, uncontrolled, loosely spoken words. 

Self-control is thought-control!

Let’s all take a page from the non-hearing clerk behind the counter and respond only to the need, not the attitude.  Practice today stripping all the attitude from what your teenager says and only responding to the need.  When you have the opportunity to throw a punch or use words to punch, consider what is essential and acknowledge only that.  If some action or comment starts to ruffle your feathers, scrutinize what you are allowing your mind to think about.  You are in control of your thoughts.  Self-control is thought-control!