The Integrity Advantage
Claim your magnificence.
That’s the last part of the subtitle of the book The Integrity Advantage: Step Into Your Truth, Love Your Life, and Claim Your Magnificence.
It grabbed my attention when it appeared on my desk at work. Someone entered my office for a meeting and I said, “As you enter, claim your magnificence!” I laughed and couldn’t wait to dive into the book.
Author Kelley Kosow, life coach and CEO, shares her insights on how to live from the inside out. I followed up with her to talk about her research and work.
What is the integrity advantage?
The integrity advantage is a way of life. It is based on living from the inside out, learning to trust and value yourself, and being honest and authentic with yourself and others. Predicated on the concept of wholeness and integration, it advocates embracing all of who you are and everything that has transpired in your life – the good, bad and ugly – so that you can operate from wholeness instead of lack, truth instead fear, and in the light of your grandest desires instead of paralyzed by feelings of doubt.
A person of integrity is someone whose life isn’t full of contradictions. They do as they say, and they say as they do. Who they are on the inside is who they are on the outside, and who they are on the outside is aligned with how they feel on the inside. They have declared what is important to them and who they want to be in this lifetime. The actions they take and choices they make are aligned with that declaration and reflect that they feel worthy and deserving to manifest that which they most desire.
Living in integrity is the ultimate advantage, because instead of trying to get it right, make it look right, or always being right, you are committed to living a life that feels right to you.
“A person of integrity is someone whose life isn’t full of contradictions.” –Kelley Kosow
Tell us about the integrity snatchers.
Think about all the ways you have broken promises to yourself. You vowed to speak up at work and then sat silent in the meeting yet again. You convinced yourself that this time you were going to stick to your diet only to find the number on the scale inching up again. You committed to making a change and then found yourself sliding back into the same behavior you’d been so desperate to avoid.
Often when we break promises to ourselves or step over our integrity, we do so knowingly, consciously, and aware that what we are doing will probably lead to some mini implosions or even a grand explosion. So why? Why do we deny our gut, self-sabotage, chart a course to disaster, or engage in behaviors or situations that we know will probably not end well? Because of integrity snatchers.
Integrity snatchers are the influences that erode our courage, confidence, and capabilities and cause us to ignore our truth, deny our instincts, compromise our dreams, and make choices that are not in our highest interest. They are the shame, shadows, fears, stories, roles we play, wants we have, and people we encounter who empower our helplessness. Integrity snatchers act as tricksters and wreak havoc with our sense of self and self-trust. These culprits join together in a choir of condemnation, confusion, criticism, and chaos that loop in our heads, serving as the catalyst for self-doubt, self-sabotage, settling and playing safe and small. However, we don’t want to make our integrity snatchers wrong since that would be making ourselves wrong. Integrity snatchers are part of our humanity. So, the important thing is to become cognizant of your integrity snatchers so they will not consciously or unconsciously run you.
When you become aware of your Integrity Snatchers, you can remove them from their seat of power.
“Integrity is owning all of who we are and living in alignment with our deepest truths and desires.” –Kelley Kosow
The Role of Self-Love and Self-Trust
Why are self-love and self-trust important?
This question is truly two separate questions. So, let’s start by looking at,
“Why is self-trust important?”
When we don’t trust ourselves, we can’t listen to ourselves. We can’t heed the very guidance that our soul is trying to provide. We are cut off from the very essence of our being and end up living a life that feels wrong, inauthentic, and disconnected.
Although most of us look to the outer world for love, validation, acceptance, and even for our own answers, the truth is, “You are the only expert on you!”
Inside of each of us is the most amazing internal guidance system. I call it our Integrity Alignment Monitor. Your I AM is installed at birth and comes with a lifetime guarantee! It is specifically designed to help you tap into your truth and find your way back to what is right for you.
In an era when we are all obsessed with selfies and self-monitoring—measuring every step we take, our sleeping patterns, the calories we consume or burn, the places we visit, and how much money we spend—our Integrity Alignment Monitor is truly the ultimate gadget because it connects us with ourselves. It supports us in knowing when something is “off.” It warns us when we don’t feel comfortable in someone’s presence. It alerts us to behaviors, choices, thoughts, and actions that are not in alignment with our integrity, and it guides us in making the choices and decisions that are in our best interest.
Living in reference to our Integrity Alignment Monitor helps us strengthen our muscle of self-trust which does get stronger with use. Cultivating our muscle of self-trust ultimately supports us in seeing ourselves, being ourselves, and feeling safe in the world. In today’s climate, safety is critical – and it starts with self-trust.
In my book I write, “To love yourself you need to know yourself.” Knowing one’s self breeds self-trust which fuels self-love. This leads to the second part of this question, “Why is self-love important?”
Self-love is critical for both ourselves and everyone we encounter. When we love ourselves, we honor ourselves. We feel worthy of manifesting our dreams.
There is a powerful connection between integrity, worthiness, making high-level choices, and self-love. When we are “in integrity,” we feel clean and worthy of having a great life. We honor ourselves by making choices and taking positive actions, which fuel our feelings of self-love. As our self-love increases so does our desire to keep living our highest and best life. We spiral up in our commitment to integrity and self-love. Self-sabotage becomes a thing of the past because anything that does not feel nurturing and supportive no longer feels congruent with who we are and how we love and treat ourselves.
“We can’t give what we don’t have. Loving ourselves, we can truly and fully give love to others.”
Those around us also benefit from our commitment to self-love. When you know and love yourself, you don’t feel threatened or in competition with others. It makes life so much easier. Instead of being caught up and brought down by the smallness of the wounded ego, you are lifted by your limitlessness. When you value yourself, you can see the value in others, and a culture of respect flourishes.
The Blessings of Your Binges
You outline some steps in the book. Explain just one of them, for instance, “The Blessings of Your Binges.”
Be it over-spending, excessive drinking, isolating, procrastination—or as was in my case, binge eating—we all have our favorite forms self-sabotage. Like the person who wakes up with a hangover, the after-effects of self-sabotage are never pleasant. First, we need to deal with the consequences of our actions and clean up our messes or the drama we created. Second, we need to endure the internal choir of condemnation and criticism that shouts, “What is wrong with you? How could you be such a loser? How could you possibly mess up again?”
My self-sabotage always led to a tirade of negative talk and self- judgment, which led to more shame and feelings of unworthiness. This resulted in one of two behaviors. Sometimes, it would send me straight back to the kitchen since the pain and shame of cheating on myself and being such a failure were so great that I had to numb them. Other times, it would lead me to the negotiating table with myself and the promises of how I would be better, what I would do differently, how things would change and my life would become perfect. Although I did not realize it at the time, my promises about how I would fix my life only reinforced my feelings of brokenness, damage, and not being good enough, which ultimately always led me right back to—that’s right—the kitchen.
Transformation does not happen when we fix it on the outside; it happens when we love it on the inside.
I spent years on the treadmill of self-sabotage and self-hatred until one day, as I was in the middle of one of my eating frenzies, I froze and checked in with myself: What is going on with you?
It must have been a moment of divine grace that allowed me to stop and realize the madness. In that moment, with that question, I took a deep breath and exhaled my pent-up, suppressed emotions. I stepped into what was happening within me instead of running away from it. I realized that my binges were signs from the Universe. They were a blessing because they were emerging to show me that something was off, that somewhere in my life there was an issue I didn’t want to face, an emotion I didn’t want to feel, a truth I didn’t want to see, or that there was some part of me that I was pushing aside. I needed to find out what was eating me, so I didn’t have to eat it! My binges were a signal that I was out of integrity and that I needed to look inward before I imploded and sabotaged my life even further. It was time to get to the source of the issues eating at me, so I could stop feeding them.
Instead of being something I did wrong, I learned to see my impulse to binge as the prelude to my next breakthrough—a flashing light announcing, Warning! Something is off! Immediately tune in to your Integrity Alignment Monitor and determine what is going on with you.”
Neale Donald Walsch said, “If you don’t go within, you go without.” I’d add, when you go within, you never have to go without!” The blessing of our binges is that it is a warning sign to go within.
Leadership and Integrity
When we meet a leader with integrity, what qualities immediately stand out?
For many, integrity can be an intimidating or daunting concept. They think it denotes being a paragon of perfection. Integrity is not about perfection. It is the level of consciousness we bring to every moment. A leader with integrity consistently demonstrates a high level of consciousness. They are conscious not only about how their words and actions reflect upon themselves but also how they impact other. They stand in and for the collective, knowing that in “we” there is wellness and in “I” there is illness.
When it comes to leaders with integrity, there’s a quote that is based on the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson that always comes to mind. Emerson is credited with saying, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
“Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Who we are being is our integrity. In leadership, there is being and doing. Most leaders focus on what they are doing. They are trained to set and reach goals and milestones and let their achievements be the measure of their success. Leaders with integrity focus on who they are being. Their doing, their words, actions, and achievements, are a manifestation of who they are being. Feeling whole and complete on the inside and being in integrity with themselves and others, they can show up more authentically, connect more intimately, trust more fully, create more passionately, manifest more abundantly, and listen with more confidence, courage and humility.
“When we each own our wholeness, it impacts and strengthens the whole.”
Tell us about the response to your book. What has surprised you?
It has always been my passion to share with others what was given to me – the gift of liberation. My hope is that people see themselves in the pages of my book. I want to inspire people to take back their power and free themselves from outdated beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve them, so they can feel open and empowered to step into their truth, love their life and claim their magnificence.
My hopes for my book have been realized. I hear from people daily about how much they relate to what they are reading in the book as well as the voice it is written in. What has surprised me is the timeliness and magnitude of the integrity conversation. We are obviously living in a time of chaos, crisis, and confusion. We don’t know who to trust or what to believe. There is no denying the system is broken. But just as on the individual level there is a blessing in our binges, I believe that on a collective level the massive breakdowns and implosions we are experiencing in the world are the prelude to what hopefully will be a global shift and breakthrough.
Everything that is bubbling up in the world right now is a reflection of what is bubbling up in each of us, and it must be healed in each of us so it can be healed in the world. I know a lot of people think they have no influence in changing the world, that it is an insurmountable feat or a lofty, unattainable goal that “spiritual” people talk about. But just like in coaching when we encourage clients to achieve their goals one action step at a time because the goal might feel overwhelming, and the overwhelm becomes their excuse to quit, the same is true with the world. If we focus on the world, we can feel impotent. But if we focus on something we have control of – ourselves – and focus on what Gandhi said: “being the change we want to see in the world,” things can change.
Instead of looking at what is going on in the world and having it shut us down, let’s take back our power and fuel our personal transformation, trusting it will have a ripple effect in the world. Like the first responders and heroes in Las Vegas, we need to take on the chaos instead of running away from it.
For as Gandhi also said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.” -Gandhi
So, what has truly surprised me is that what started out as a book has morphed into a movement. And they both are founded on being the change you want to see in the world and individually and collectively living the integrity advantage.
For more information, see The Integrity Advantage: Step Into Your Truth, Love Your Life, and Claim Your Magnificence.
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