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What does it mean to be fully alive?
Speaker and coach Jim Dethmer on the four pillars of integrity and how they lead to a more purposeful and intentional life
“The ultimate outsourcing is outsourcing our core needs and wants to people, circumstances, and conditions.”
Shane Parrish and leadership coach Jim Dethmer unpack what it means to lead an intentional and purposeful life—which, according to Jim, is one that’s marked by integrity. Jim’s insights coincidentally come in fours: there are four pillars of integrity, we have four core wants as human beings, and we progress in life by moving through four growth stages.
You can catch the complete episode (2 hours and 20 minutes) here.
Integrity means being fully alive. Since the word “integrity” comes from the Latin word for “wholeness,” Jim likes to think of integrity as “energetic wholeness”—or full aliveness. There are four pillars to integrity (taken from Dr. Katie Hendricks):
Take radical responsibility. Instead of blaming or criticizing others, claim responsibility for your own experience. Don’t live in victimhood. That said, there is a difference between being a genuine victim of atrocity and having “victim consciousness.” Someone with victim consciousness feels like they have no control over the things happening to them—they resist the idea of having agency.
Feel your feelings. We have a tendency to either suppress or repress our emotions, probably because of social norms and cultural expectations. But doing so can take a lot of energy. Jim offers an analogy to help visualize what happens when you continually suppress or repress your feelings: Imagine your emotions as beach balls. If you try to hold multiple balls underwater at once (aka suppress your emotions), you’ll inevitably feel exhausted.
Speak candidly. Candor is the gateway to connection. That’s because when you withhold a thought or feeling, you tend to withdraw. This can lead to projecting—interpreting someone’s thoughts and feelings based on your own. But by speaking candidly in your relationships, you give others the chance to clarify and react. That transparency can be chaotic but it’s also, as Jim puts it, a “portal to intimacy and connection.”
Be impeccable with your agreements. An agreement is anything you say you’ll do. That could be an agreement with yourself, but oftentimes, you make agreements with another person. Jim observes that a lot of drama in life is caused by unclear or unkept agreements—think being late or flaking out on something last-minute. When someone doesn’t keep the majority of their agreements, trust breaks down. As soon as you know you can’t keep an agreement, let the other party know and renegotiate—come to a new one.
We’re naturally driven by four core wants: approval, control, security, and oneness. And we forget that we can fulfill these ourselves at a young age. A few examples of how we try to outsource these core wants: aiming for a certain salary to feel secure. Chasing likes and followers for validation and approval. These four core wants can be incredibly triggering—and it takes a lot of self-awareness to recognize how they drive your behavior.
We create stories about our relationships. These are interpretations of how others think and feel, regardless of whether they’re true. (Like when you imagine someone’s upset because their last text message ended with a period.) Even when that story has little basis in reality, we look for confirming evidence of its truth. Jim explains that we are the cause of our stories, and conflict usually rises because we want to be right about them.
When you host friends for dinner, how stressed do you get? Shane talks about the desire for not only everything to run perfectly but for everyone’s experience to be amazing. I can relate. Whenever my husband and I have loved ones over for a party, I get caught up in wanting to ensure everyone’s having a good time. (My brain: Is it too hot in here? Do people need drink refills? Does that person look uncomfortable?) Jim reiterates that people are responsible for their own experiences—and getting engrossed in these thoughts can actually make you unavailable to your guests. Not to mention, it’s incredibly unenjoyable. Coincidentally, my husband and I are hosting a get-together this weekend so this felt like a very timely listen.
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