Living a congruent life in today’s world is a big ask. I don’t think we realise it but the huge range of pressures that are placed on all of us from the time we are little to conform and bow to peer pressure makes the idea of congruence easy to say, but much harder to do.
Living a truly congruent life means that your personal, social, family and work lives are all consistent in their values and behaviours. You have a ‘True North’ and you know where it is! It means that you are authentic. I can hear many of your thoughts now, “I am pretty authentic, what you see is what you get.” For those of you that are managers let me give you an example that is all to common.
A manager I once worked for used to talk a lot about behaviours and how the smallest things sent the loudest messages. He was right and would use this when he spoke to his teams about values and authenticity. He would relate it to such things as ‘doing what you say you are going to’ and ‘showing respect to the people you work with by being on time’. Some days later he had overbooked his diary and arrived late to an important meeting that I had organised on his behalf. I had made sure that all of the attendees were in the room ready to go on time and his late arrival was both embarrassing and hypocritical. My frustration must have been evident because he delayed the meeting further and took me into another meeting room and said, “I am a General Manager and I don’t thing it is too much for others to have to wait for me when I have a busy morning. They work for me, not the other way around! Your job is not to judge me’
This is a perfect example of a lack of authenticity and congruence. Being on time and showing people respect is something you should do because it is right, not because they hold a higher or lower station in life to you. In this example it is very clear that this individual did not believe in the concept of equality. He may have believed in authenticity as he certainly did not hide his views. The lack of authenticity, however, was in his external professional image to his people versus his actual actions.
Being congruent and authentic requires a clear set of values that you follow as an individual. These must be recorded somewhere and be something that you share with others because it is at the very core of who you are. Sadly most of us have never invested the time and energy to work out what these personal values are, let alone start to try to live them.
Tim is a Speaker, Executive Coach and Pragmatic Leadership Expert who works with individuals and organisations on delivering results and being more effective. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at www.timothykitching.com.