Nike tells us to “Just Do It.” Ah, if it were just so easy!
Here we are, just five days into the new year 2011 and the annual hullabaloo about “resolutions” is in full gear. Do you make resolutions? Do you keep them? Why? Why not?
To say “I never make resolutions” is ridiculous unless you never resolve to do anything. Of course, our problems with making resolutions are really about keeping them. I am reminded of the children’s riddle of five frogs sitting on a log.
Five frogs are sitting on a log.
Four decide to jump off.
How many are left?
Indeed, fear of failure will weaken one’s resolve to decide a course of action, and fear of the unknown often keeps one from action. (Believe me on this one; I’m an expert with extensive experience!)
Perhaps even more basic to the average person’s reluctance to make, or tendency to keep, resolutions is this: we don’t want to appear dishonest. Honesty is necessary to have integrity, after all.
Ask for a list of “leadership traits and characteristics” of anyone and, inevitably, that list will include the ironically murky ideal of “Integrity”. “Good decision-making” also frequently appears. “Resolve to take action” – not so much. Yet action is the critical link between our decisions and integrity. Leadership requires resolves, action…and the ability to anticipate and overcome obstacles.
Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
When I think of Integrity, I also think of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who successfully piloted his passenger jet into the icy Hudson River, saving all lives on board, two years ago this month. In my own words:
“Instinct didn’t take over for Sullenberger as he steered his jet toward those icy Hudson waters, practice kicked in – the practice of integrity. This is a man who decided earlier in life that safety and human lives were important enough to him that he would dedicate himself to preserving those ends. He trained, he studied, he learned day after day, year after year with those ends in mind. What once began as a pilot’s tenuous first flight, over the course of 40 years of practice became unconscious competence – the right attitudes, habits, decisions, actions and demeanor to save lives in a crisis.”
Completeness. When you resolve to begin something, are you prepared to complete it? Are you willing to practice repetitively in the early stages so that you will succeed in the end?
What is important enough to you that you resolve to do it, achieve it, dedicate yourself to its resolution?
Get clear on your resolutions first. Turn them into goals. Are you being specific? Is your goal measurable? Is it something that you can act upon? Is it a realistically high goal? Have you a target date in mind?
There will be birds and icy waters.
No matter what you decide to do, there will be obstacles. THERE WILL BE OBSTACLES. At least if you have a clearly defined goal, you only will be focusing on the obstacles to that goal and not to other possible interpretations of a vague resolution! You can develop solutions to obstacles. You can be prepared for obstacles, just as Sully Sullenberger was.
And that, my friends, is the real secret to keeping resolutions. That, my friends, is the path to Integrity, which you will find only at The Intersection of Purpose and Now.
Aspire to have integrity: practice discerning what is right, saying that you will do right, how and why you will do right, and doing so whether or not someone else is paying attention.