Integrity and Performance: Why It’s Critical to Optimize for Both (Updated for 2021)

Integrity and performance. When you see a wheel missing a spoke, it’s easy to see it’s not in integrity. Here’s how to improve performance while in integrity.

This is true whether you like it or not. You may not believe it… but it is still true.

Your performance is tied to your integrity if you define integrity as the state of being whole: unity. Integrity comes from the root Latin word: integritatem which means wholeness and soundness.

An example will illustrate the relationship between integrity and performance: a bicycle wheel if missing one spoke would be said to be out of integrity: missing something, not whole and complete.

Not a problem if you are going 1 or 2 miles an hour: but that missing spoke becomes a huge problem if you are going racing speeds. Fix the spoke (i.e restore what is missing and restore the integrity) and you can go racing speeds i.e. increase performance.

Your integrity is linked to your biology.

Brain Function, Integrity and Performance

This is where I take some slight liberties with the science: but I don’t think I am too far off: there is a part of your brain called the ACC (Anterior Cingulate Cortex) which is responsible for signaling any mismatches, e.g. if you see a mismatch in the color of the grass and the head of a sabertooth tiger sticking out, it will be very useful for the ACC to signal this to you to help you survive.

If you were walking down the street and you saw this guy, you’d spot the mismatch immediately. Ah, if only the world today were that easy to spot things out of integrity so we could improve our performance.

Simply put, the ACC signals mismatches. In today’s world, far from the world of sabertooth tigers – we have the same mechanism. But this mechanism now signals mismatches in your integrity. You have a built-in mechanism that signals what is missing so that you can do something about it!

The trouble is that most people ignore these signals: the worry and the anxiety and don’t do anything about restoring their integrity: they work to distract themselves instead!

In a practical sense, look at all the times when you finally paid attention and got the immediate relief and peace of mind of addressing what is missing. The lesson here may be that we need to pay a lot more attention to integrity and performance. This will give us peace of mind and guide us in how to improve performance.

Practical tip: List out what are the ‘mismatches’ in your business and life. For each mismatch, what are your options for actions to take to resolve these mismatches?

If you need help tracking down gaps in your integrity and performance in your life and business, contact me or follow me on LinkedIn.

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