Using the word “integrity” in your marketing message — revisited

Some time ago I posted an article about words that coaches should not use in their marketing. I wrote that one of those words was integrity. Integrity is something you show. It shouldn't be necessary to write about it, any more than an airline should claim that it will land you safely. We take that for granted, and coaches who write about having integrity might be well-meaning, but it raises a red flag.

As an example, I mentioned a coach who was part of a group that teaches the Rockefeller Habits, one of which is that your handshake and word are like gold. I called out this coach (not by name, but as an example), because he was delinquent by a year on an obligation he had to me! He simply stopped communicating with me about honoring his promise, and I thougt that it was hypocritical to associate yourself with principles about integrity without keeping your own word.

I never expected that I would get more than the usual response to any of my articles after posting it. However, the leadership of the organization in question — Gazelles International — learned about the article and, even though I didn't mention their organization by name, reached out to me to find out if one of their members may have been involved.  Ultimately the President of the organization, Keith Cupp, called me to discuss the matter.

I was already impressed, but it gets better. Keith made it clear that he expected all members of Gazelles International to stay true to their core values ( and that he took my allegations very seriously. He wanted to be sure that if a member of Gazelles was not living up to the organization's standards that the organization needed to be handle it.

I told him that I didn't want to reveal the name of the individual to him yet, but would reach out one more time to him about his delinquent obligation. I contacted this individual to let him know about the Gazelles response. He got in touch with Keith to explain his side of the story, and we developed a plan for him to meet his obligation. (Not that circumstances matter in keeping your promises, but it turns out that this individual was going through a severe financial and personal crisis, and had to prioritize his obligations; that's no reason to stop communications and write off an obligation, but there was a reason for the disconnect).

In short, the issue has been resolved, and I am impressed. It is clear that this is an organization that takes its values seriously, and that goes out of its way to model integrity. Yes — a member fell short of their values, as we all do from time to time — but the strong community of Gazelles provided the necessary resolve to get things back on track.

Stephen Carter's classic book Integrity defines the higher levels integrity as more than just keeping your word. It is about seeking out places where we aren't showing integrity, and correcting the situation.

I really have to hand it to Keith and the leadership of the Gazelles for serving as a model of integrity in this situation. This is something that is all too rare to see, and I have tremendous respect for how this was handled.

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