Living (and Sailing) With Integrity

When I was a little kid, I would go with my father to check on the houses he was building. I loved to explore the maze of timber sticks and breathe in the smell of sawdust. I remember one summer morning looking down a set of thin, temporary stairs that led into the basement.

“Dad, I’m going downstairs,” I shouted into the shell of a house, hearing my voice echo.

“No you’re not!”, he responded quickly.

“Why not?”

“Because the stairs aren’t in yet.”

“Yes they are!? I can see them!”

“Those aren’t real stairs. They’re lacking integrity.”

That morning I learned two things:

First, if something lacked integrity, then it wasn’t safe. It wasn’t trustworthy.

Second, since the stairs didn’t have integrity, they essentially were not even stairs. Sure there was wood there, but there would be no stairs until integrity was added to them. Without integrity, the stairs didn’t exist.

It is like this too with our personal integrity.

First, the more integrity we have, the more others trust us (and the more we trust ourselves).

On the flip side, those who lack integrity we find to be untrustworthy.

Again, secondly, it is those people with integrity who we hold to be most substantial. We consider them most valuable and even real. It is also when we have integrity that we take ourselves most seriously.

On the the other hand, we tend to disregard those who lack integrity as inconsequential. For ourselves, without personal integrity, we feel as if we lack meaning or purpose in life.

Without integrity, we ask questions like: Who am I? Why am I here?

One could say that without integrity, a person doesn’t exist.

I’ve been taking sailing lessons recently, as I find sailing to be a great metaphor for life. The integrity of the sailboat is obviously fundamental to it harnessing the power of the wind and it going where it wants to go. On reflection, I noticed a sailboat has three main structural features that enable it to sail, each of which can represent an aspect of personal integrity.

Watch this video to find out what they are.