Integrity – Uniting Mind, Heart and Soul
The theme of the weekend is the last stop on the Hyde Pathway of Excellence, Integrity: I am gifted with a unique potential. Conscience is my guide in discovering it.
This explanation of integrity may seem to come out of left field. I hope to help you understand how it fits in the Hyde process.
While Brother’s Keeper is our most difficult principle to practice, Integrity is by far our most difficult character quality to accomplish, I think because to achieve integrity, we know we have to change in ways we are often are not ready or motivated to change.
This is tragic, because it is essentially being penny wise and pound foolish. By hanging on to present gratifications of the life we know—combined with our fear of change—we keep ourselves ignorant of the profound riches the achievement of integrity would bring to our life.
Integrity is defined by three points, with the 1st being:
1.adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
This is how most of us understand integrity. We admire those who adhere to moral and ethical principles; we know they have sound character, and we look up to them. But generally, admiration does not strongly motivate us to follow in their footsteps.
However, we should motivate us is grasping the other two definitions of Integrity:
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: like to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: like the integrity of a ship’s hull.
Apply those definitions to ourselves. Think of how many of problems in our life stem from our not feeling whole or undiminished, or from not being in a sound and unimpaired state.
Consider our dependency on the opinion of others; how we might stew over a cutting remark, or from some deep embarrassment or from failure.
When we have difficult or unresolved conflicts with others, or in our careers, or even within ourselves, the probable cause is we have yet to achieve an integrity that makes us feel whole and unimpaired. And how many of us feel a sense of incompleteness, vulnerability or lack of confidence? Again, this sense of integrity is lacking.
In these cases, it is like trying to move ahead in life before finishing some vital work within ourselves, and we end up trying to build the ship as we sail it.
The dictionary offers us four synonyms for integrity: rectitude, probity, virtue honor, yet only one glaring antonym: dishonesty. This says, to lack integrity, is to be dishonest—at least to ourselves.
So to get really honest, integrity requires us to integrate our entire self: mind, heart, and soul. But realize the challenge of integrating these three very different levels of perception:
We begin with a level of thinking that we do control. However, even at this level, we are susceptible to an ego that can control both ourselves and our mind.
Then we have a feeling level, in which emotions like anger and fear can control our egos and our minds. As Woody Allen said, “It’s hard to get your head and heart together in this world; in my case, they are not even on speaking terms.” But as we learn more about emotional intelligence, we realize bringing our thinking and feeling levels into sync is critical in developing an integrity of wholeness.
This begins our sensitivity to our unconscious, which, in addition to such powers as our intuition and insight, represents our spirit, conscience and ultimately our soul. While we have no control over this deepest level within ourselves, all our hard work to develop, purify and then unite our thinking and feeling is opening us up to our incredibly powerful unconscious and soul.
Sigmund Freud said our most important decisions in life—like choosing a mate or a profession—should come from our unconscious. This statement is now supported by many neuroscience experiments. For example, in one experiment reported in Science Magazine, the unconscious reaction of 135 newlyweds to their spouses turned out to be a strong predictor of the success of their marriage.
So if we aren’t fully satisfied with the life we are leading, maybe it’s because our mind is not in sync with this deeper part of ourselves, and we are not on the path to achieve the needed integrity to make us whole.
I somewhat recently learned about an episode when my son chose that path. He was a freshman at Bowdoin, failing chemistry. His roommate had to take the Chem exam a day early, and left a copy of the exam on Malcolm’s desk with a note, “Merry Xmas Mal!”
While knowing the questions would have greatly helped Mal prepare for the exam, he threw it away. As he explained, he was not going to allow Bowdoin and grades to have a higher priority in his life than how he felt about himself—certainly a critical step in becoming whole and undiminished. Keeping this episode to himself until his 50s reveals his personal need to integrate his deepest feelings with his mind—an expression of conscience.
My crisis of conscience in 1962 was a similar act, while reaffirming Freud’s power of the unconscious.
I had been somewhat humiliated to realize I was cut out to be a teacher—painfully remembering the phrase: Those that can—DO; Those that can’t –teach. To soothe my ego, I committed myself to make a difference in the lives of my students, hoping someday they might say,” If it weren’t for you Mr. Gauld…”
This egotism did lead me to more deeply search for the potentials of my students. I worked hard to become a better teacher, a better coach, and—a better person.
From an aimless college playboy, I became a serious scholar of mathematics and athletics. I also began to deal with my shortcomings—like being unfaithful in my marriage, and when an exaggeration of mine turned into a lie in a heated argument, later apologizing and telling the truth.
But as I became successful, the more uncomfortable I became with our system of education. For example, in my calculus class, I told a lazy, self-centered, arrogant 14 year old genius his attitude would crucify him in life. Yet I was giving him my highest grade! Then I told a dedicated but discouraged Vermont farm boy to ignore his feelings—“I work twice as hard as everyone else and get half as much out of it”—and trust his character and perseverance would ensure his goal of becoming a top engineer. Yet I was giving him my lowest grade!
Years later, he did become a highly distinguished engineer, while the genius became unemployed, despite graduating from MIT at 18 with an A average.
My concerns about the system had been all talk, but I learned the power of Freud’s unconscious at a new year’s party in 1962.
I loved those parties and I had a lot to celebrate. Blanche and I had our third child, our own home and I knew I would soon be a headmaster. But as the evening developed, something was wrong. My smile was fixed; I was trying too hard to be sociable; I felt a growing emptiness inside me.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I had to get off by myself. I ended up in the dark, crying for the first time in years, with no understanding why. I was not drunk; I felt like a maudlin fool; I told myself I was being ridiculous. But for the life of me I could not stop those tears.
Today I understand by expressing and dealing with those deeper emotions, I enabled myself to transcend them to hear my conscience, which I accept as the compass of my destiny. I had become aware of my deeper self.
As good as it had been at New Hampton, I realized my students and I were caught in a system that kept us from realizing our true best. Once you know the truth, you can’t “unknow” it. And if it wasn’t the best for us, it wasn’t the best for students everywhere.
All this gave me a helpless feeling–what can I—just a teacher in the boondocks—do about it? Then I sickeningly realized, if not me, then who? My conscience was telling me I had a responsibility to try to find a better way to prepare kids for life.
I realized no matter how assured my future as a headmaster, I could not take that path. I got up and walked back to the party. I knew I had made a New Year’s resolution that would change the course of my life.
What I appreciate today is the strength I gained from the integrity of wholeness I experienced that night. The crisis of conscience combined my unconscious self with my mind to work as a team. So much so, that today when I need to make tough decisions, I value what I think after I sleep on it.
I did take a headmastership and instituted a new program based on what I would found Hyde on. But after a very successful 1st year, I realized I was envisioning change beyond what the trustees would accept. Rather than compromise the program, I resigned.
I didn’t know what I would do next or how I would provide for my family. But I never second guessed my decision to resign. The integrity of mind, heart and soul working in concert confirmed it was the right thing to do. Out of this decision came the founding of Hyde, and the life I have since led.
This Integrity of wholeness can be achieved by the Hyde pathway of excellence, which we parents can help both our children and ourselves travel.
It begins with Curiosity: I am responsible for my learning. Curiosity requires openness and a desire to seek what is true.
We parents need to ask ourselves, how responsible are our children for their own learning? Even more, how responsible are they for their own lives? Consider the key question; who is more worried about their futures—we or they? If it is us, we have more work to do in helping them become self-sufficient.
Next comes Courage: I learn the most about myself by taking risks and facing challenges. To grow, we must effectively deal with change and adversity.
The level of challenges and risk taking of our children may be found in their successes and failures and in how they handle adversity. One Hyde parent/Hyde governor, who developed his organization into a Fortune 500 company, never hired someone who hadn’t failed at something. We parents need to ask, are we overprotecting our children from risk, challenge, failure and adversity?
The inquisitiveness, confidence, grit and sense of responsibility gained in curiosity and courage stages prepares one for Concern: I need a challenging and supportive community to develop my character. “Others see our best and our unique potential in ways we do not.” Concern means synergistically internalizing the help of others, which also enables us to transcend our egos to internalize humility.
Do we model this challenging synergistic sharing for our children? Note that therapy is not synergistic. Synergy is created by equally vulnerable parties sharing equally.
This work prepares one for Leadership: I am a leader by asking the best of myself and others. This is the critical Brother’s Keeper point in the pathway—where we risk a deeper relationship with others by practicing the synergy we gained in the seminar stage. Are we as parents modeling this difficult step of Brother’s Keeper? Wholeness means expressing our mind, heart and soul, and helping our children have the courage to do the same. This expression of Brother’s Keeper elevates our focus to a purpose beyond self, and helps connect our children more closely to their conscience.
A universal truth about every society and individual on this earth is “the golden rule:” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Whatever differences we humans may have, we all seem to share this belief. Our children are seeing a best in themselves, they uniquely see a best in others and now unselfishly wish to share it with them. So Brother’s Keeper is an active expression of their human soul and larger purpose in life. In this single act, they experience making the world a better place.
This brings us to Integrity: I am gifted with a unique potential. Conscience is my guide in discovering it.
Our work with conscience-centered-learning instills an integrity and sense of wholeness that insures our actions will reflect our mind, heart, and soul. Our children imitate us from birth. So perhaps the greatest gift we can give them is our own pursuit of integrity. I wish you all well this weekend.