Blogging for Progress: The Experiment Begins

This month 16 individuals set out to better understand what integrity means. They were all asked to think about integrity, and make a personal goal to have the Month of March be their Month of Integrity. The variety of goals were instructive, showing that integrity means very different things to different people. Here are some of the great goals individuals from the experiment chose:

– Never criticize another person when they aren’t around, unless you are willing to criticize them to their face.
– Train for a half marathon: show integrity by keeping to the goal of running 6 days a week.
– Goal for lent- eat no cheese for 40 days- and be 100% faithful to that goal.
– My word is my bond, follow through on 100% of my commitments, if I say I’d like to watch American Idol with my neighbor- I will watch American Idol with my neighbor.
– Learn to speak Spanish, specifically- learn 60 new words per week.
– Truly live my religion, seeking after things that bring me closer to God.

I am hopeful the members of my virtue experiment will achieve all of their goals, but if not, the process of picking these goals, and sharing them with the group has already created a vision of their potential that will hopefully create unexpected opportunities and serendipitous results.

Here are a few tips I would like to share for setting powerful goals this month:

GOAL SETTING TIP #1

Trees grow because they reach for the sun. For personal growth to occur, we have to leave our comfort zone- explore undiscovered country. The best goals will terrify us a little, demanding we take a step into the unknown.

GOAL SETTING TIP #2

Expect discouragement. Nobody can be perfect in accomplishing their goals, and we must anticipate falling short sometimes. Be honest with yourself in setting goals, but also be honest with yourself in your shortcomings- do not be discouraged if you fall short of perfection.

I want to invite anybody reading this to join us for the month of integrity. Think about what integrity means for you, and set a goal to make this your Month of Integrity. Feel free to comment below, (publicly or anonymously I’ve changed the settings) and let us know what your goal is!

Learn Virtues Like You Learn to Golf


I love to play golf, but in full disclosure I must inform everyone reading I am not a great golfer. But I love the game, and I love being out on the grass. Being surrounded by all the trees and grass can be very therapeutic.

The golf swing is a very complicated thing, and any number of coaches or pro’s could give you literally thousands of different pointers on how to improve your swing. Here are just a few of the basics:

-keep your head down
-don’t grip the club too tight
-swing with your hips
-follow through
-don’t swing too hard
(this list could go on and on for days)

These are just a few of the pointers that you will hear when learning to golf, but the biggest secret is this- YOUR BODY ALREADY KNOWS HOW TO SWING. Its a natural motion, and if you over think it- you will miss the ball altogether. So what I learned from a pro was this:

FOCUS ON ONE GOLF TIP AT A TIME

So for me, when I get out on the golf course and prepare for my swing- I make sure I’m loosened up, I take a couple of practice swings, and then I focus on ONE thing- keeping my eye focused on the ball. I let my body do the rest. A smooth, crisp drive along an open fairway is a thing of beauty. Sometimes I will focus on a single golf tip for the entire summer- training myself is not easy. It takes patience, focus, and hard work.

Practicing virtues in our life is a lot like practicing a golf swing. If you try to do everything at once you will be overwhelmed, but if you can focus on a single virtue at a time- whether it be honesty, patience, courage, or charity- the other virtues will follow because they are already part of you.

RETURN TO VIRTUES is all about going back to the principles we as a society and as individuals know, but sometimes forget. With facebook, twitter, blogs, and google we are flooded with information- but what does all of it teach us? All the blogs in the world won’t make a difference in society unless we can implement the lessons we learn.

William Faulkner said it much better than I could in his Nobel Prize Speech. Speaking about how authors must re-learn the most important truths of our society, he said:

“[The Author] must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.”

-William Faulkner (excerpt from his Noble Prize speech)

I have challenged all of my Virtue Volunteers to make March the Month of Integrity- to focus just on this one virtue. I will document how it affects every facet of their lives. I anxiously await the results.

Sweet Parking Spot

Since this is the month of integrity I have been searching for ways to be more honest. As I said before, I think I am generally a fairly honest person- but maybe I was just fooling myself. I must now publicly admit, I have been dishonest in my parking.

How does one be dishonest in his parking, you may ask?

1. Borrow your grandma’s handicap parking permit (I know this seems pretty low, but an associate of mine at law school actually did this all through law school.)

2. Park in the “expecting mothers” section at Baby’s R Us. (Sadly I will never be able to honestly park there.)

OR

3. At my work there is a 9 story parking garage. Anytime I arrive to work say after 8:45 I have to go around and around in a circle up to the 7th or 8th floor. The whole process is time consuming and highly annoying- especially considering the fact that I am paying $71 per month for the privelege to be trapped in the discusting garage.

Well last month I found a loop-hole. On the first and second floor there are some PRIME spots marked with “Reserved for Comfort Suite Guests”. The signs also mention “Violators will be towed for ticketed for $50”. Generally this serves as a significant deterent from non-guests parking there- but as said before, I found a loophole.

One of the employees from my work used to be on the board that runs the parking ramp. Apparently they have no mechanism to patrol those spots. Long story short- since there are TONS of opens spots and nobody patrols them, it seemed like it was my responsibility to take these spots. It was better that I use them than nobody at all.

Funny thing is, I started getting really suspicious- I didn’t want anybody from work to see me parking there, so I would go around the corner if a car was following me, and then I would sneak back into the prime spots. I was so worried that one of my co-workers might see me parking in the forbidden spot- and maybe even turn me in. So after, I would rush out of my car- so nobody would recognize me and know which car I drove. It was really starting to stress me out.

So I thought last night while I was lying in bed, how can I live a more honest life?

I need to park in the right place, even if its on the seventh floor.

Month 1: Integrity

The book I am writting has a very simple premise, focus on one single virtue each month for twelve months. By focusing on just one attribute at a time the hope is that it won’t be too overwhelming. Since I want to make sure this actually works, I am trying it out for myself.

For the first month I am wearing a gold colored band as a constant reminder to be honest, and to practice integrity. So far I haven’t really been challenged to be honest, so I’m not sure how much of a different the wristband is making, but it is in the back of my mind.

For me honesty means to be completely honest in all your interaction- certainly to the people that matter most to me. I have only been married for three years, but from the begining I made a decision to never hide anything from my wife. If I can’t share everything with her, than life would be pretty lonely. She has been pretty honest with me as well- and I think it has helped us always have very open comunications. It makes me feel safe to share anything with her.

One thing I have learned though, is that timing does matter. Being honest is important, but there is a right time for it- being honest at the wrong time can totally ruin the mood.