What is Contegrity?

I thought a good place to start today might be to make explicit the background behind the term “Contegrity“. I made that term up in 1992 to point at something specific and unnamed. The “Con” part is from the Latin for “with”, and the “tegrity” part underlies “integrity”. So, “integrity with“.

Integrity with what? My intent was to coin a term for “deep integrity“, when someone operates not only with integrity regarding themselves (doing what fits, what is honorable, what honors the special gifts you have been given), but also integrity between themselves and others (that honors what others provide and have to give and what they require for fulfillment.)

Contegrity also points to an integrity with Life (honoring the way Life works and what adds to the quality and fullness of Life). And lastly, as an orientation it honors whatever integrates Life into “higher order wholes” (e.g communities vs. groups of separate individuals) as well as what fulfills that which Life presents…including the quality of whatever “gives” added Life.

This is a “put it all together and it spells ‘Mother'” kind of a view. That is, while it sounds like four distinct pieces to take care of (you+ others+ Life+ what integrates, fulfills and gives Life), in fact, from an integrated view, these are inseparable. There is no you without others, no you and others without Life, and no Life without its nature of being given, integratable and fulfillable.

Contegrity points to a whole, integrated view of a self and what fulfills a self. First of all, a “connected self” — connected to others, life, and what integrates and fulfills life. Second of all, not a self as “personal property” or a thing — my self, my car, my house — but rather a self that is already connected and already belonging as much to others and to life as to “you”.

There are at least two more pieces to add to this view of deep integrity or Contegrity. One is that you/others/Life/WIAF (What Integrates and Fulfills) occurs in time and circumstance. So, deep integrity is played out on the game board of fulfilling time and circumstance — by accomplishment what has our times and our circumstances turn out as fulfilling as is possible. Orienting toward being the right person, in the right place, at the right time to fulfill this very life — at the level you can become able to, not at the level you “should”.

The second piece is a flip from what is the common sense view of time. Contegrity as a perspective is about “unfolding life into a fulfillment”. The unfolding perspective regarding time means that how you are operating can be fulfilling now, while turning out the accomplishment and before it has turned out, as well as when it does turn out. It is an “in time” and “through time” integrated perspective. It is possible to be both fulfilled now by orienting to deep integrity, and to be fulfilled when — when the circumstances and relations comes to a next fruition.

This is different than “goal driven and only happy when it turns out”, which is good given that most of the time we are in the middle and not at the end of an accomplishment — especially the bigger it is. Contegrity is an open, intentional and connected relation with others and life in which providing what you have with integrity is sufficient and satisfying and often turns out better than the grand plans of mice and men. A Contegrity Orientation makes for a remarkable combination of peace and intentionality, acceptance and engagement in the hard work it takes to have life turn out well. Briefly said, it provides both peace and power. A rare combination.


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About Ken Anbender

Kenneth Anbender Ph.D. has spent the last 50 years working with more than a hundred thousand people directly on the principles and methods that support the fulfillment of a human life -- in community and at work. He has developed a body of work that is licensable called The Contegrity Approach.
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