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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.


Can you hear me now?

“Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?Remember the Verizon commercial advertising better connection.

2016, the year of the most connected society that’s ever lived.  A device in our pocket connects us to our children, our hair stylist, our boss, our suppliers, our neighbors, and our grocers at the push of a button. An order can be placed and received within 24 hours; a tune up on the car can be scheduled; instructions about “how to” can be downloaded.  No group of people in history has ever been so connected.  And yet . . .

We are more isolated than ever.  We sit alone in our cars ordering our pizza for supper.  We sit alone in our homes scrolling through social media.  We sit alone in our office surfing the web looking for answers to our dilemmas. The last two evenings, I’ve listened to two different groups of people who have been intentional about building community.  They’ve purposely begun to live life together.  It was a decision they made and some of them had never experienced that level of connection before.  

Connecting through technology is not the same as connecting in community.  True connection in authentic community looks like vulnerability.  Vulnerability comes at a cost.  So community needs to be trustworthy.  I watched a 30-something, motorcycle riding, inked-up, family man (and btw he’s much, much more than that) point his finger at a friend in his community and say, “We can cry with you about the junk in our lives because you are trustworthy.” Real connection requires vulnerability but vulnerability can only exist when the community is trustworthy.  

Engagement becomes authentic when the community values each other.  When everyone’s voice is important and everyone has something to offer, then engagement will be a natural by-product.  Most of us protect ourselves by acting like we don’t need anything or anyone.  Seldom do we say, “I need . . .”  More often, we can be heard saying, “I’ve got this.” Rich community values everyone, not just the ones who dress well or have more education or do a better job of communicating.  Everyone’s voice is a necessary part of the whole in community.

Humans are designed, just like Legos, for connection.  That’s why isolation is used as a punishment.  It’s hard on us.  It’s not healthy for any of us.  One Lego standing alone is not living up to it’s full potential.  If connected to the right pieces it could become a firehouse headquarters or something equally as elaborate.

If you’ve been without community for a while, I want to suggest that it is already impacting your health, both physical and emotional.  Consider getting outside of your comfort zone and create connection with others who value you, who are trustworthy and who want to be real with you.  


The Possibility in Uncertainty

On my fiftieth birthday I awoke jobless, homeless, alone for the first time in 30 years and able to say "I'm better than I should be." I was facing what appeared to be insurmountable uncertainty.  As I reflect back on that I realize there is possibility in uncertainty.  

To find the possibility in the uncertainty, you must carefully guard what is going on inside your own head.  Consider changing the way you use the two words, what and if.  Rather than saying, "What if the sky is falling?" like Chicken Little; try, "What if this turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to me?"  Instead of using what and if to delineate every possible bad scenario, use them to accentuate all the possible positive outcomes.  If you give  your mind even just an inch of negativity and worry, it will take a mile.  

On this uncertain journey, escort your mind at all times!

photo credit: <a href="">Wednesday Wisdom #33: Uncertainty</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Wednesday Wisdom #33: Uncertainty</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

When treating uncertainty as the source of possibility, get moving.  Stop sitting, stop waiting, stop sulking, stop wringing your hands and do something.  What is the next thing that needs to get done? What action can you take today? What is the goal for the future?  What small step can be taken today toward the possibilities?  When I was facing uncertainty from every aspect of my life, I just took the next step.  No, I didn't have it all figured out and I definitely didn't understand it all but I could figure out what could get done today.  Just do that.  

Action and movement will help you uncover the possibilities under the uncertainty.   

When you face uncertainty, a great deal of reassurance can be found in putting your confidence in something bigger than yourself.  If you are the biggest thing in your world, it is sure to crumble. The absolute best way for me to face uncertainty is to hope in a God who is bigger than all that I am facing.  I admit that most of life is out of my control which could leave me very shaken, if it weren't for the fact that I trust in a God that restores my confidence.  

Having confidence in something beyond yourself will keep you watching for the possibilities.

To reach for the possibilities in the middle of uncertainty: be attentive to what is happening in your mind, take daily action toward the next best step, and put your trust in something bigger than yourself.