“How others treat me is their path; how I react is mine.” -Wayne Dyer
Every summer as a teenager, the future The Grapes of Wrath author John Steinbeck would ride his horse up the untamed Santa Lucia Mountains to Big Sur. He worked at Billy Post’s ranch tending to the cattle or fixing fences for pocket money for the next school year. One year, halfway to Billy’s spread, John’s horse cold stopped in the middle of a trail. John nudged the beast with his heel, but not another step would she take. Reaching for his rifle and looking around, John thought his steed had caught a whiff of a mountain lion. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw it—a bear, twice as big as a grizzly and big enough to carry a mule in its jaws.
John’s horse bolted back down the mountain, and it was an hour before he reined her in. When he arrived late to the Post ranch, John gave a full account of running into a legendary Big Sur bear. Mr. Post and his other hands crowed at John because the Big Sur bear was a fairy tale and they called him a dirty liar for spinning the yarn. With his integrity questioned, John spent the rest of the summer looking for proof the Big Sur bear existed. He spent his meager wages to buy plaster to make a cast of the giant bear’s tracks. As the summer wore on, John and his horse explored the most inaccessible places of Big Sur with no luck. John’s horse was injured on one outing, and he spent his remaining wages nursing the animal back to health. Soon the season was over, and John had as much money as he had proof he wasn’t a liar.
You might think John Steinbeck was foolish or lied about the Big Sur bear. His willingness to forego a school year’s worth of pocket money to prove his integrity says otherwise. Is your integrity worth a year’s wages? If not, you could be due for some soul-searching.
The Big Sur Bear: Accelerators
- On a scale of one to ten (one being low and ten being high), how would you rate your integrity – the frequency with which your words are truthful or your words match your deeds.
- If your answer was anything less than ten, where must you make changes in order to close the gap?
- Integrity literally means “whole.” Therefore, when one lacks integrity, it literally means they are “broken.” How can you finish every day such that you are whole and unbroken?
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and “The Top Performer’s Field Guide.” He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor and Innovation Junkie, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. Jeff helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at InnovationJunkie.com.