The toughest—and best—questions that you can ask yourself

One of my favourite Monty Python bits is the deadliest joke sketch—about a joke so funny that it killed whoever read or heard it.  

My vote for the hardest question that you can ask yourself is this:

Do I do what I say I am going to do?

Most everyone hates this question. It’s a beast. Asking yourself this question is more difficult than if someone else asks it. You could evade, bullshit, weave a story and convince someone that you did.

But you can’t bullshit yourself. You know if you walk your talk. 

That’s why it’s such a difficult and essential qestion. 

The answer will determine if you’re living in integrity.

You’ll often hear people say that someone has integrity, or not. Usually it’s based on whether they think someone is honest and has strong moral principles.

But it’s a judgment. It may be based on data, but it’s still just an estimation.

Only you know the answer to this question: Are my thoughts, my words and actions in alignment? 

(Note that I’ve taken ManKind Project’s definition of integrity and turned it into a question.)

I believe that asking ourselves these extremely tough questions provides us with valuable answers on how we’re showing up in all parts of your lives, and give direction to what you need to do to move toward the life that you want. That is, take the actions that will push you along toward what you are seeking, as an individual, a colleague or a teammate. You may have good thoughts and say the right words, but you also need to take action. And only you have control over that.

As an example of how integrity affects teams and individuals, here’s a copy of an email that I recently sent to the University of Guelph golf team, which I coach. 

“This is a reminder to do your post-round reviews. Thanks to those who have sent me their completed reports.

“But it’s not necessary. I don’t need to be checking them … like a teacher checking if you did your homework. You are all adults. These reviews are for your own benefit. Of course, they will improve your performance as an individual and member of the team.

“Everyone committed to each other that they would do the reviews. That’s good enough for me. 

“A person of integrity walks his or her talk. That is, they do what they say they are going to do.

“Not because someone is checking on them, or it’s part of the drill or job.

“You are doing them because you are a person of integrity. That is, your thoughts, your words and your actions are in alignment.

“If you’re looking for a life lesson that you can draw from being on a golf team, this is one.

“If you said you would do the reviews, but you are not, I would ask you to check in with yourself around that: Do you keep your commitments to friends, family members and your teammates?

“But mostly … Do you keep your commitments to yourself?

“If not, how is that working for you?

“I’m not shaming you. We all let ourselves down. It’s part of being human.

“It’s how we respond to our mistakes, what we learn and then what we DO that’s most important. As long as we learn from our victories and defeats and keep stepping forward, then we’re moving toward being the best we can be.

“If you’re looking for something like a magic formula for happiness, that’s pretty close to one.

“Personal integrity is a pathway to living the life that you really want for yourself.

“It starts with doing what you say you’re going to do.”

For some people, failure to live integrity may indeed be deadly–to your health, your relationships, your family, and even to our vision of yourself and who you really want to be.

The themes of integrity and accountabiity are pillars in my change management workshops called Walk Your Talk, which I recently gave to a national wealth management firm and I’m slated to deliver at the PGA of Canada’s Tee Talks Live conference on Nov. 26.

Click here for more on my Walk Your Talk workshops and here for a previous blog on accountability.

For info on the workshops or coaching, drop me a line at tim@oconnorgolf.ca or visit www.oconnorgolf.ca.

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf and life coach, an award-winning writer, Head Coach of the University of Guelph golf team and Mental Performance Coach at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey. He is author of the newly released second edition of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He is co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and a leader in training in the ManKind Project. He gets all excited when he helps people tap into their brilliance.

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