Family dinners with my kindergarten-aged twins are usually a raucous good time, and this week’s “Taco Tuesday” promised nothing less . . . until the taco shell broke.
Maybe I made the shells too crispy. Maybe the meat was too moist. Maybe Dylan was over-tired. Maybe an offensive breeze knocked a kite out of the sky on Jupiter.
Whatever the reason . . . Dylan (the oldest by a minute) suffered a complete emotional breakdown at the sight of his exploded taco. He bolted from the table and with the grace of a trained superhero, flew through the bedroom air and landed with a thud on his bed. Face down. Sobbing. Convulsively.
“I don’t deserve to be in this family anymore!” He wailed.
“What the heck are you talking about?” I asked.
“I’ve been lying to you.” He confessed. Snot and tears soaked his pillow.
“I tell you every day that I was good in school and that I don’t get in trouble, but I dooooo. I get in trouble every single daaaaaaay.”
Hearing this confession simultaneously broke my heart and made me smile. He just learned an important lesson about living with integrity. And he learned it at age 5. Wow! I can’t help but be impressed.
Integrity can be a difficult concept to pin down, even for adults. Most people think of it as honesty—or being able to tell the truth—but it’s even deeper than that. Although Dylan’s confession was about telling us a series of lies, he could have gone on forever with the charade had it not been for his integrity.
Integrity is when your values match your behaviors.
Honesty must be a value my son just realized he holds. And he realized that his behaviors did not match that value. So the taco broke, the confession spilled and (after a long conversation about lying) his integrity was restored.
Fortunately, living with integrity doesn’t have to be so dramatic! And you don’t have to wait until your taco breaks to figure it out!
Just think about the things that are important to you. Family? Career? Reputation? Self-respect? Honesty? Fairness? Independence? And then think about all of the ways you behave (or want to behave) to reflect those values.
It’s not always easy to live with integrity. We all face distractions, conflicting desires and confusing motives. Dylan’s actions were motivated by his desire to use the computer. (Being “bad” in school usually leads to a loss of computer privileges in our house!)
What’s keeping you from living with integrity?
Does it really matter if you live with integrity? Why or why not?
What, if any, are the consequences of NOT living with integrity?
Do you think living with integrity is more important in healthcare professionals? Why or why not?
Let us know your thoughts! We love to hear from you!