Business, religion and far too many things in our world, have become unnecessarily complicated. . At the heart of all three are a few simple, universal truths most everyone can agree are good: be kind, treat others the way you want to be treated and take care of each other. The complexities will divide us unless we can find a way to come together to unravel the knots.

Integrity: /inˈteɡrədē/ noun: the state of being whole and undivided

Being honest and having strong moral principles are the qualities most of us think of when we hear the word integrity. The “whole and undivided” part, the secondary definition, has found a permanent place to nestle in my soul. It’s caused me to do some hard core noodling about the necessity and magnitude of integrity and the magic it seeds.

As I think about people and business, we have become distracted, exhausted and disconnected. Too many of us want to be heard and too few of us want to listen. We debate and talk over one another. We try to “get by” working in pursuit of what serves our own needs best. Egos, personal agendas and winning at any cost rule the roost. They hijack any chance of trusted relationships taking shape. They dictate the tone, topic, structure and vibe of our interactions. They poison the well. Simple puzzles become complex and as they do, we become separate and divided.

As I’ve gotten further into my noodling, I’ve remembered how much our handshakes used to mean. We held out our mitts, looked each other in the eye and we did business with people we trusted. Handshakes were an agreement. Our word was our solemn promise to take care of each other. The integrity vibe was cast and it was magical. Somewhere along the line, we allowed the integrity bar to become so low that we’ve wound up here- with this massive disconnect. This disconnected state has us working to serve our own interests and not always in earnest. We are mindlessly racing at 200 mph, 27 hours a day. We are working for what we need and what we want, regardless of how that work will affect others. We want everything fast, cheap and easy and, oh by the way, we wanted it yesterday. The abandonment of integrity is dangerous and it is costly. We see it in our headlines everyday.

Here’s the deal. The way things are is not the way they have to be. We can turn our disconnected madness around, one person at a time. It’s pretty simple. It starts with the choice to take a step back, slow down, create space to think and move to action from that mindful place. So, take a deep breath in and imagine a world: where we are considered, a world where we work in the best interest of one other, where the collective goal is to be whole and undivided. Imagine that a simple handshake has the power to seed a trusted business relationship. How awesome would that be? It’s possible. It’s as simple as mindfully choosing to work with integrity.

We have to choose to show up and be present as we go about our lives. We have to honor our time with one another and listen while we share ideas. We have to work with integrity to do business the right way, not the easiest, cheapest or fastest way. Most of us still want to work with people we trust and with people who care about us. By mindfully choosing to work with integrity, we pave a path for business rooted in trust, respect, transparency and collaboration. Whole and undivided.