Taking a Heart and Head Approach to Integrity

September 5, 2017 Mary Ellen Sailer


One of my favorite buildings is the Chrysler Tower in New York City. Although it was constructed 90 years ago, that building is still standing because it was built with integrity. Since it was designed and assembled properly, it doesn’t need to be propped up—it just needs to be maintained.

The same can be said for a person with integrity. I like to define integrity as a unifying way of being. It integrates all of the aspects of a person.

But many work cultures promote a compartmentalized view of life—for example, an expectation that you use only your brain (your head) at work and save emotions (your heart) for what is going on at home. Such an expectation is unrealistic, unhealthy, and exhausting. When you compartmentalize, you lose the integration and integrity needed to make wise choices.

Instead of compartmentalizing, I ask my clients to consider integrating their brain and their emotions more fully and to use both in a complementary fashion as they make decisions.  By removing the blinders of compartmentalizing, they can become more aware of what is going on inside themselves. This increased self-awareness creates new choices and opportunities.

Have you been trying to compartmentalize your heart from your head? How would your life be different if you checked in with all of yourself instead?

Select a few of the following activities to expand the use of all aspects of yourself—not just your head or just your heart—to see where else you can open yourself and better access your integrity.

  • Write in a journal, seeking to address thoughts, feelings, and sensations
  • Practice meditation
  • Discuss what you’re learning with a caring colleague, friend, or family member
  • Adopt a new physical activity and let your mind wander in this kinesthetic experience

Create the opportunity for greater integrity in your life. Rather than using your mind to have the last say in all your decisions, allow yourself to check in with your heart, your body, and your soul.

By reinforcing your awareness that your heart, mind, body, and soul are integrated, you will expand your ability to benefit from all aspects of yourself—and you will fully benefit from being in integrity instead of just having it.

About the Author

Mary Ellen Sailer headshotMary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D., is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 120 coaches have worked with over 15,000 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.


About the Author

Mary Ellen Sailer

Mary Ellen Sailer is a Senior Coach for Blanchard®. She is a frequent contributor to Blanchard’s LeaderChat blog. Mary Ellen received her professional coach training from Coach U, earned the Professional Coach Certification from International Coach Federation and her Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Organizational Development from the University of Massachusetts.

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