This post was written as part of a collaborative e-book called Resurrecting Modern Gentlemen. I hope you enjoy it! You can download the full book here:[jbutton link="http://goo.gl/PLb06t" halign="center" size="large" color="green" rounded="no"]Download The Book![/jbutton]
It was 9:00 at night on a Friday night. I was sitting on the lumpy old couch in my basement apartment… crying.
My life was a mess. I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I hadn’t been sleeping well for the last week, my relationship with my business partner was strained as our company struggled to grow, and I could feel the stress of my bank account quickly dwindling down to zero dollars and zero cents.
As I looked to the other side of the couch, I saw my girlfriend - the woman I love more than anyone in the world - hugging her knees with tears in her eyes. The last few weeks had been tough on our relationship as well. The choices I had been making were going to drive us apart and end our relationship.
Everything was unraveling. I felt hopeless, as if the damage I’d done to the people and things I cared most about was irreparable. The life I wanted with a flourishing business, and the girl I loved was slipping through the cracks, and I there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
Or so I thought.
The word “integrity” suddenly popped into my mind.
On January 1st of this year, I chose the word “integrity” as the theme for the next 365 days of my life. Since that time, I’ve read books on integrity, taken classes on integrity, and done a great deal of work to create more integrity in my relationships and in my life.
To me, having integrity means that I am a man of my word. It means when I say something, I do it. No excuses.
Suddenly, I was having an out-of-body experience. I could see myself sitting on my couch in that moment, feeling disempowered and helpless, and something inside me clicked.
“The reason you’re struggling,” I said to myself, “is because you haven’t kept your promises.”
I could choose to be the victim of circumstance and say that the life that was crashing down around me was not my fault. I could blame it on bad luck, other people, or even just the chaos of life… or I could take responsibility for it all.
I knew if I was going to hold on to the things I had worked so hard to create, then I had to own up to my lack of integrity - my broken promises, and my unmet commitments. Then I had to make new commitments… and keep them.
Many men I know are scared of making promises.
In their mind, promises are just another opportunity to disappoint people. Promises don’t leave room for much gray area… either you keep them or you don’t. I hear the words, “I’ll probably,” or “I might,” or “If I have time,” come out of their mouths as they throw out a safety net of protection to shield themselves from the consequences of their potentially broken promises.
“I said I’d do it if I had time,” they say, after disappointing and emotionally distancing themselves from yet another person they care about.
What most men have forgotten is that promises are the very foundation of strong relationships. When I make and keep promises to others, they learn that they can rely on me. It creates a bond of trust.
As you continue make and keep promises - even little ones - the trust others have in you, and the trust you have in yourself and your ability to deliver on promises will grow. Your relationships will strengthen and flourish. This trust will inevitably develop into commitment.
The Thrill of Commitment
One of the most meaningful things you can experience in life is when your relationships evolve into a state of commitment.
When you’re in a committed relationship, whether it’s a friendship, a business partnership, or a romantic relationship, it means that you and the person (or people) you’re committed to all share the same vision. It means you’re all willing to work towards and fight for the same cause. It means you get to participate in the creation of something greater than yourself.
Being in a committed relationship is evidence that your track record for making and keeping promises has earned you enough trust to be invited into someone’s inner circle, and to participate in creating something important with them.
When a man is creating something with people he trusts, it means he’s living his purpose. He’s expanding, progressing, and growing.
The legendary Chicago Bulls of the mid-1990’s are a perfect example of this. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Tony Kukoc, and the rest of the Bulls created a cohesive unit where each could trust the other to know and fulfill on their role. Jordan and Pippen dominated the scoreboard, while Rodman pulled down rebounds, and Kukoc dropped outside jumpers.
As they continued to develop and grow, they pushed themselves to the best season in NBA history, and multiple championships.
None of this could have happened without commitment, dedication, and continuous progress from every member of the team.
Growth Leads to Happiness
When you’re surrounded by the people you trust, committed to a higher purpose, and experiencing growth, you will inevitably experience the happiness you so desperately desire.
At the end of the day, all we really want is to be happy. Too many men get caught in the trap of searching for shortcuts to happiness through means that compromise their integrity. Rarely do these sources of happiness last. So they bounce from woman to woman, hobby to hobby, addiction to addiction, or job to job in search of the “right” thing… when in reality, that which will make them happy is right there the whole time.
And it all starts with being willing to make and keep a promise.
If you’re not seeing the results you want in life, whether it’s in your work, your family, your friendships, your spiritual life, your physical well being, or your love life, ask yourself this question: “Where am I lacking integrity? What promises am I not keeping that I made to myself, to someone else, or to God?”
Take ownership of your broken promises. Make new ones. And keep them.
That’s exactly what I did, and now my business is growing, my girlfriend and I are getting married, and I couldn’t be happier with the direction in which things are moving.
Your ability to make and keep promises makes you who you are.
Make integrity a part of your nature, and you’ll find yourself living the full, happy, and fulfilling life you’ve been searching for.
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