One of the values of a conscious, or spiritual, business, is integrity, and it is probably one of your own personal values as well. But what does it really mean, what does it look like in business terms, and how do you use it in your own business?
The word integrity comes from the Latin adjective ‘integer’, meaning whole or complete, and is described in Wikipedia as ‘the inner sense of wholeness deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character’. I’m sure you know this ‘inner sense of wholeness’ – it’s what you feel when things are going well; when you’re feeling connected with a bigger purpose in your life; and when you are looking out to the world around you with eyes of love and compassion. It’s just a good feeling of all being well.
It’s this sense of wholeness that becomes fragmented when you go against your own personal ethics, or those of your business. If you promise to pay people within 30 days and then you don’t do it, that’s you fragmenting your ‘wholeness’, or compromising your integrity. It’s not the 30 days that is right or wrong, or the payment or non-payment that is right or wrong – it’s the saying one thing and doing another that causes the energetic conflict, let alone the practical problems that result from this. Clearly, the sensible thing to do in this situation is to contact the person to let them know when you can pay – and then your integrity is still complete. This may seem a small thing, but it is exactly these small matters of integrity that combine together to make huge problems at a later date.
I was tested recently with my own sense of integrity when we received a letter from the bank offering to settle our outstanding debt with them. They had asked for our best and final offer and we had given it, based on what we had available to us without any further borrowing. They wrote back and agreed to settle, but for almost 50% more than we had offered. The willingness by them to accept any offer in itself was a miracle, given the size of the original debt; but once the shock of this had settled down, the question of whether to negotiate came up. Some of my friends said of course I should be negotiating, that’s what any sane business owner would do; others said go back to them and emphasise they had asked for our best and final offer, and had gotten it; and I myself thought of just sending a cheque for the mid-way amount and hoping they would agree to it.
But none of these felt quite right. None of them, when I sat silently with the question of what amount to pay, and asked for guidance and help with this, allowed my sense of ‘wholeness’ to remain intact. What was going to keep my wholeness intact was to pay what they had asked for.
I don’t mean by this that this would always be the answer of integrity for everyone in this kind of situation; certainly there are some times when negotiating is the best way forward. And some people in this situation would have been right to negotiate. But given the circumstances and the people involved in this process, which has been going on for over three years, paying the money and by that, ending the whole game that had been being played, felt 100% the right thing to do.
We borrowed some more money from our very supportive friends, and I so enjoyed writing that cheque out and sending it off to the bank, with a whole heart and a glad smile on my face! I emailed our contact at the bank to tell her I had done this, and how grateful we both were for her compassionate input into, and influence in, our situation. Imagine my delight when I received an email back from her saying ‘Thank you for your kind words, it is not often in this line of work we are complimented on our efforts. It was a pleasure to work with you both and I wish you both all the very best for the future.’
To me, knowing I had conducted myself with integrity and from a sense of rich thinking, as opposed to poor thinking (even though we were paying over more money which meant it looked like poor thinking!) was more than worth that extra amount. My wholeness had not been fragmented at all.
The moral of this story, then, is to always check in your heart when you have a decision to make; to drop down into the beauty of peace and stillness; and to respond courageously when you discover what action is being asked of you. For it is only by carrying out that action that you continue on in your business with your whole heart, and also allow the heart of your business itself to remain whole, full and complete.