You are probably wonder what those three things have to do with one another. I understand your confusion, The World Series is baseball, Cheeseheads are Packers football fans, and Integrity is an overused platitude that is pasted on ‘CORE VALUES’ posters that adorn the walls of mediocre organizations.
The word ‘Integrity’ has lost so much of its meaning, especially in our businesses. Broken promises have become commonplace when they were once rare and shameful. Now days, breaking a promise is less emotionally troublesome than breaking your iPhone screen. People constantly fall short of expectations and we have essentially sanctioned pseudo-integrity. “Sorry about that, I forgot.” or “My bad, something came up.” have become cliched phrases. Do our words no longer carry meaning? Are we defaulting to saying what’s easiest in the moment with no intention of following through?
Lets back up a moment. Who in their right mind would wear a cheese head to a baseball game? I would.
Lets ask a better question: Why would a non-Packers fan wear a cheesehead to a World Series game, in Texas, between the the Dodgers and Astros?
Because I said I would.
Last week I gave a keynote presentation to an organization of healthcare professionals in Wisconsin. While there, I made some great new friends and was given the cheesehead as a gift. I was so touched by their hospitality. In a offhand comment I mentioned that I may be attending a World Series game in Houston later in the week. When they jokingly asked if I would wear the cheesehead to the game I laughed and said “Sure!” Not fully registering what I had agreed to we finished up the conference and I headed to the airport…cheesehead in hand.
This was a quick trip to La Crosse, WI and I only took a small carryon bag and my briefcase. There was no room for the cheesehead… I ended up wearing it on the plane to the amusement of many passengers and flight attendants.
The next day I found myself with a ticket to the World Series. As I debated with myself about wearing the cheesehead to the game, a friend of mine stated that “the people you met in Wisconsin wouldn’t even know if you didn’t wear it.” And he was right. I could easily not wear the bulbous, cumbersome cheesehead and just tell them I did. No one would be the wiser.
Thats when a sinking feeling hit me. I had told them I would. Most people consider themselves people of integrity, but it doesn’t count if its just in public or on the surface.
Integrity is what you do when no one is around to see who you truly are. Once lost, integrity is not something that immediately grows back.
I could have left the cheesehead at home and only I would have known, but thats was enough to convince me to wear it.
Amidst ridicule, confused looks, embarrassment from those I went to the game with… I wore the cheesehead. Nine innings and several beers later it was still on my head.
Because I said I would.
All it takes is one lie to call into question everything you have and will ever say. Integrity is not to be take lightly. It’s time in our organizations and our relationships to keep or promises. Hold yourself and those around you accountable to what is said.
You may look silly wearing a cheesehead at a baseball game, but no one will doubt that you do what you say you will.