The Last Judgement, John Martin, 1853
We all live in a state of denial about our hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is our default and if we are to experience personal growth, we must recognize this. Accepting the truth will help us to transform ourselves and impact those around us in a positive way. When we identify our hypocrisies, we build courage and integrity. We become less reactive to external events and more impartial; we can see clearly and thus make better decisions. What we observe is tinted by our own cognitive states. To be a truly effective leader, we must be able to observe our biases.
If we live our lives with the courage to face and be truthful about our hypocrisy, we become a signal in an ocean of noise. The world reacts differently to us. We become unique. We attract others who are looking for something worthwhile.
We all have the propensity to entropy – to slow down and accept the easier path. However, eventually entropy causes pain, hopelessness, and death. This is not the path of the leader. We must ever increase our integrity and close the gap of our hypocrisies – to live for principles – so that we bring hope and life to others. Integrity is the alpha and the omega of leadership; it is the cure to entropy in our world.
In addition to recognizing our hypocrisies, integrity includes humility. Humility extends from observing our world as it truly is. We feel greater connectedness and oneness and transcend our egos. This process isn’t easy – you must be ready to suffer to keep a principled life and maintain your integrity. But that is what makes you worthwhile and a signal to others.
Attempt to express your deeply held fears, bare your failures, and the times of a lack of integrity. Think of the times you moved towards the edge of chaos (where growth happens) but your fears triumphed. Ask yourself, “What are my patterns of denial, and how can I decrease my hypocrisy?” Close the gap.
Here’s a breakdown of what to ponder (not that these are easy questions – they are part of the journey). Write down your values. Your values guide you in how to live your principled life. When you know your values, you can act in a way that will reduce your hypocrisies. This will increase your courage (in yourself and the world). Then you can move forward into uncertainty. Now you are a leader.
To be fair, here is a journal entry from last year where I attempt to face one of my hypocrisies. I will not edit it to how I feel now or to make me feel better about letting it go into the world. I will be brave.
“I can be withdrawn especially when I feel as though I have “nothing to live for” (e.g. purpose). On the other hand, I am quite engaged with most everything I do and especially when I am with people. I gain a deep joy from having a deep, one-on-one conversation with another person. I am balanced at being involved and quite aware of when I am getting too close and making people uncomfortable or stifling their ability to work and be creative. At times, I worry my integrity is not as high as it should be especially when I share space with someone who is quite committed to their ethical practices (I am comparing myself to them). However, I wonder if this is too rigid as they seem to have a worldview painted in black-and-white. My world is painted in shades of gray and I would like to think there is some vibrant pops of color in there; those pops are things that I value above all. Referring to my initial statement, I am lost in finding meaning in my life. Working in high-stress and highly impactful areas for 15 years and making a transition out of that has been a struggle. A supervisor has directly told me, “The world is no longer on fire,” and I “should relax.” Without the pressure of loss of life or limb, or intelligence or reconnaissance I am lost. I am without. I often feel like I transitioned from someone who mattered to someone who does not matter. I cannot be committed to the career I have now because I keep looking for something else. That is the problem. I have not closed off my exits; I try to, but I end up peeking out wondering if there is something else and pining away. I do not know how to balance commitment and looking for opportunity.”
I invite you to think about your values and how you can live your life in a way that honors them.