Henry Cloud’s Integrity

In 2006, Dr. Henry Cloud published what I believe to be his best book entitled Integrity

His objective is to connect the dots for how integrity and character work day to day. To do that, he outlines six character traits that enable talents and abilities to get their desired results:

  1. Creating and maintaining trust
  2. Seeing and facing reality
  3. Working in a way that brings results
  4. Embracing negative realities and solving them
  5. Causing growth and increase
  6. Achieving transcendence and meaning in life

It’s rich. I finished re-reading it last night. Yes, it’s one of those books. Here’s proof:

  • Underdevelopment leaves a gap between where we are at any given moment and where we need to be. That gap is our need and opportunity for growth.
  • Dysfunction is when an effort toward making something better makes it worse. That is when we are in trouble. And both a lack of integration and a lack of development can do that.
  • We trust people who we think hear us, understand us, and are able to empathize with our realities as well as their own.
  • Research has for decades proven that you can help desperate people immensely by giving them no answers at all, and only giving them empathy.
  • If you want to leave the best wake possible, leave behind a trail of people who have experienced your being “for them.”
  • Wise people are “cautious in friendship,” as the proverb says. They seek to get to know a person clearly, as a person truly is, before they hire him, marry him, become partners with him, or divorce him, fire him, or not go forward with him.
  • It behooves all of us to be working on whatever unresolved pain we are walking around with, lest some issue in “reality” tap into it and overcome our ability to make good decisions.
  • Secure identity is about who a person is, not what he does or what his results are.
  • People oriented toward growth want others to grow as well as themselves.
  • The immature character asks life to meet his demands. But the mature character meets the demands of life.
  • The one question that hovers above all others in importance for a person’s functioning in life is “Are you God, or not?”

The Stairmaster & Integrated Character

I’m halfway through Henry Cloud’s Integrity. It’s been too long since I read it, and I want to get it read before yearend.

Today I read this quote from chapter nine, “Finishing Well”:

The ability to make a move, make the call, face rejection or loss, is a character issue, and if it is missing, results do not happen. Fear of failure, rejection, disapproval, anxiety, unknown outcomes, loss of security, and other fears keep people from achieving the results that they could, if they were not afraid.

People of integrated character do not think of failure that way. They think that if things do not go well, that is another reality that they will deal with and overcome. In a sense, the integrated character never sees failure as an option. These people just see problems to be solved, and they will meet the challenge when it occurs, so “go for it.”

Here’s a simple illustration of this. I’m not running much right now while a left-foot injury heals. So my Planet Fitness craze is the Stairmaster. In response to a couple of challenges and opportunities next year, I’ve decided to push for some new personal records on the Stairmaster. The main record I’m after is time. Until last week, the longest workout I’d done was 35 minutes. Respectable. My new goal is an hour.

I could do it today if I had to. But I’d have to do it at a slower level/pace than I’d like. So my strategy is to add minutes slowly but maintaining high levels. So last Friday night I found a blog post for a 40-minute workout; it was beyond my skill set, so I modified it and went to the gym the next morning with my 36-minute routine ready to “go for it.”

I about died. This is the plan I didn’t succeed:

  • Two minutes starting at level 8 increasing one level every two minutes up to level 13 (12 minutes total). Complete three times.

After the first twelve minutes, I had a pretty clear idea I had overestimated myself. Two more rounds wasn’t going to happen unless I wanted to be the subject of a viral video of what it looks like to be eaten by a Stairmaster. In the end, I ran out of gas at 30 minutes.

I was pretty sure the way to solve my problem was to address my heart rate. I’ve never really concerned myself with it, so I needed to learn about it. According to active.com, it is recommended that you exercise within 55 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes to get the best results from aerobic exercise. The MHR (roughly calculated as 220 minus your age) is the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.

Good to know. Why? All along, I’ve been pushing my heart rate way over the recommendation. Using this formula, my heart rate should be between 90-145. On Saturday, I mostly stayed between 155-170. No wonder I ran out of gas.

With a better grip on reality, I went back and boarded the machine yesterday with one goal in mind: monitor my heart rate well in order to get to 36 minutes. Here’s what I ended up achieving:

  • Level 7-2 minutes. Level 8-4 minutes. Level 9-6 minutes. Level 10-8 minutes. Level 11-6 minutes. Level 10-4 minutes. Level 9-6 minutes.

I even had a little left in the tank. As my friend told me, I had some experiential learning. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Knowledge about heart rate on this machine is power for meeting my goal.
  2. Getting there alive is certainly better than not at all.
  3. There is a way to accomplish my goal. Adjust and “go for it.”
  4. The Stairmaster can also integrate character.

A Memorable Human Encounter

Once in a while we’re fortunate to have a memorable human encounter. When it happens, I believe we should share it. I had one yesterday.

Actually, several dozen people were present, but I suspect few of them would classify it memorable. We all got to hear a few words from a local leader in sports and education. He shared some life principles as part of a community gathering at our church. His words were well said and presented. He knew what he wanted to say, he said it, and no more. He represented himself and his position honorably.

His words weren’t necessarily his. The majority of what he shared retold what he remembered learning from his grandfather, a Baptist minister. He recalled them with fondness and admiration acknowledging they started the journey he is continuing himself and now works to pass along to students and athletes under his leadership. Everyone listening had a human encounter.

But mine was memorable, not because of what he said but because of what he didn’t say. Until last night, he and I had only communicated through email and voicemail where I extended the invitation to him to come speak and then our prepping for it. In them and through all he shared with me privately and publically last night, not once did he mention his title, his success, his credentials, his history, or his current victories. Only since last night through the wonders of the Internet have I learned there is plenty he could have mentioned. His lack of being about himself was refreshing and honestly unexpected. That shows character. That reveals humility. That deserves memory.


Thank God for this servant leader, Coach Shakir. I’m grateful for this encounter. I pray God blesses his future encounters to continue to be memorable for all the right reasons.

“There’s No Crying in Baseball”

(This is the eighth post in a series on wisdom from baseball co-written with Mark Stanifer.)

It’s a movie line. It’s funny. It’s memorable. But it’s not accurate. 

We may try to maintain an “it’s only a game” mentality in our recreational endeavors. But like it or not, our passions have a way of seeping out. Positive and negative, character and opinions, warts and all. 

In the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own, actor Tom Hanks plays character Jimmy Dugan. Dugan is a washed-up former ball player, who’s now a drunk managing a women’s baseball team. Not exactly how he thought his life would turn out. Dugan didn’t want his players showing any emotion that wasn’t related to the game. He didn’t care about his player’s personal lives. He wasn’t interested in contributing to their lives off the field. Why? Largely because he wasn’t managing his own life off the field very well. Here’s the truth: You can’t lead, manage, or contribute well to a team when you aren’t managing yourself well.

Suppressing your emotions isn’t managing yourself well. Crying along with other forms of expression is our body’s relief mechanism. Hurt or joy. Confusion or celebration. Frustration or praise. Disappointment or worship. Doubt it? Watch the World Series. Guaranteed there will be tears from these men, both the winners and the losers, once the final game has been played.

As fans, we understand this, expect it. In a way, it makes these superheroes of their sport somehow more human. We can relate to them more this way.

What about non-baseball life, the emotions of average life day to day? Many people choose to join Hanks in deceiving themselves into believing this line, “There’s No Crying in Life.” The reasons why are varied: perceived as weakness, doesn’t help the situation, there’s no time, real men don’t cry. These are all based on concern about how you will be perceived by others.

Perception can feel like reality, but that doesn’t make it true or beneficial. Brené Brown addresses some of this in her book Daring Greatly. She writes,

“We’ve come to the point where, rather than respecting and appreciating the courage and daring behind vulnerability, we let our fear and discomfort become judgment and criticism. We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. Vulnerability is life’s great dare. It’s life asking, “Are you all in?””

The reality is there is crying in life. Choosing to live otherwise leads to many wrong efforts in dealing with life. Frankly, it’s full of pride and selfishness which tears down a team rather than unites it.

With my best Hanks impression I’ll say this, “Get over it. Crying is a good thing. Go ahead. Let it out. It’s part of life. Your teammates will thank you. And mostly, so will you.”

5 Actions Showing Title Respect

(This entry posted April 2016. Entering graduation season, another posting seems appropriate for those receiving titles and for those with titles hiring these newly titled graduates.)

What is Title Respect? Blogger’s definition: working in such a way that shows ongoing respect for one’s title earned through academic achievement or hired position; engaging with coworkers, clients, customers, employees, parishioners in such a way to bring respect to one’s organizational position

Is this easy? Certainly appears to be easier for some more than others. Character plays a significant role in title respect. If you are wondering how you are doing in the title respect category, gauge your efforts in these five actions:

Treating people with dignity

  • How are your “bedside manners”?
  • How often do you say, “Thank You”?
  • Do people leave your conversation feeling heard?

Continuous learning 

  • What’s the last book you read about your field of work?
  • If you’re not reading, how are you striving to learn?
  • If you’ve stopped learning, can you pinpoint why that is and address that issue?

Rolling without Flaunting

  • Do you insist your personal return address labels bear your title?
  • Does everyone have to know what charity you support?
  • Do you always have to sit at the head of the table?

Investing in the next generation

  • Who are you currently coaching or mentoring?
  • What support could/do you give to starters in your field?
  • How do you make yourself available to the 20s & 30s community?

Giving credit where credit is due

  • Who receives credit at the end of the project?
  • How does collaboration get celebrated?
  • How might you encourage someone after their first “win”?

Living with Judas

10 Questions to ponder when you think you know a “Judas”:

  1. How am I praying for them?
  2. What role might I play in their redemption?
  3. Has anyone approached them with the truth?
  4. What is missing from my knowledge of their story that would help my encounters with them?
  5. What wholesome character traits are shown by their behaviors? What damaging traits?
  6. Has grace been offered? If so, is there room for more? When does the grace end?
  7. When will it be time to withdraw? What’s the line that when crossed severs the relationship?
  8. What may be the root of cyclical behavior?
  9. What choices do you have when no offense has occurred but their character indicates it’s just a matter of time?
  10. What does God want me to learn from this relationship?