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Ever done something you wish you hadn’t? Ever spoken down to someone when you didn’t mean to? Ever knowingly broken a rule, then regretted it? Ever judged a situation at a time of emotional disquiet, acted accordingly and then realised you had it wrong and always did – but let your emotion rule your thinking?

I’ve done most, if not all of those. And in each case, the fault lay within my acquiescing to the deed because I wasn’t wholly acting congruently – that is, either with my own values or (and this is important) the stated values of the organisation for which I was working. I may not have agreed wholeheartedly with those values but I should have accepted and complied with them. Silly me.

In lesser circumstances, the lack of integrity had short term results – poorer relationships that meant reluctance to engage with someone when I really needed to do so. Phone calls being put off, visits being postponed, and so on.

In the worst case, I felt I had to leave my job. Not entirely because of the offending act but because of the untenable situation it left me in. Nevertheless, the time management/productivity consequence of my failure to act with congruence was no job to manage or to be congruent about.

In TimePower, Charles R. Hobbs discussed how a lack of personal integrity – which I never thought was different to professional integrity but my job loss suggests otherwise! – causes problems not just in the productivity sense but also in terms of our own sense of self-esteem.

(I’ve known people use the term ‘personal self-esteem‘. What other kind of self-esteem could there be?)

When we fail to meet our own standards we tend to dwell on that failure. I’m not talking about failure in the sporting sense. If we didn’t fail to win at sports, no-one else would, either. To paraphrase Ziglar, if someone didn’t come second the winner wouldn’t have been first, they’d have been ‘only’. I’m talking about the kind of failure that our conscience tells us is our own damn fault.

In other words, failing to act with integrity – congruence with our personal beliefs or those we have adopted – wastes time in self-examination, further self-doubt, lack of self-confidence and, potentially, a whole host of other things that stop us doing, effectively, what we are supposed to be doing.

Now ‘retired’, I find that my biggest regret isn’t the lost money I would have earned, but the inability to do the work I had the opportunity to do. And the realisation that even when I wasn’t happy at work, I could have been. Which is an odd thing to write about stressful work but it’s true. I now have less to manage my time about, and less of a need to have high professional standards.

Which isn’t to say I won’t have high amateur standards!

Of course, some lucky people have no personal or professional values, so their integrity can float around complying with anything it likes, so they never fracture their self-esteem.

And do you realise just how much you can’t trust those people?

In conclusion, therefore, I encourage you to spend time identifying your values fully, then decide whether you’ve complied with them so far and then how you’re going to be congruent with them from now on. That’s NOW ON, not ‘in the future’, which is a bit nebulous. If you need help in doing that, it is available HERE. At no cost.

It IS worth the effort, and NOW is the time.