integrity, to me is the amount of always trying to get it right and do good — and best by you and those around you and whoever you're in service to.
Love: So integrity, what does integrity mean to you? How would you define that?
Chablis: Well, for me, integrity is everything and it hasn't always been something that I was conscious of, to the point that I am today. And I'm not even going to say that I still don't have times when after I look at something in hindsight, I feel like I may have compromised my own integrity. And every time that that happens, it's an opportunity for me to grow. And to elevate to another way of being that serves me better than what I was before I made that realisation.
So, for me, integrity is everything, part and parcel to us having a conversation before we even started the day. I said that integrity is what we do when nobody's looking, right is easy. And for real for a lot of times, I see a lot of people, really, they bring in their their IG cell for their Facebook cell for their Twitter itself. When it's what I want you to see, right in the public domain, I want you to think that I'm a good person, don't go work in the community, or that I'm an upstanding Reverend, or that I'm a good civil servant as a police officer. But rarely, I'm a piece of trash when the lights is out the door close, right? That's, that's the thing for, for me, that integrity has taken on the the archetype of is, you know, what are you doing when nobody's looking? Are you still the same individual? Am I still the same individual who say, Oh, I love everybody, even if they don't like me, you know? Or do I just say that on your podcast, and then go close the door. And secretly, I'm hating on my neighbour or secretly, I'm hating on the Republican or whatever 1000 variations of things that are out there that we could be one way in the light on, and then when the light is out, be another way.
So for me, integrity is the amount of everything that an individual is in their work life, in their home life, in their community life, in their spirit life. And in their private life. If as long as you cool with who you are, and you don't have to really front for nobody, then I feel like you stand in on whatever your value for the integrity is. So so my it's just one that I really like, things like, what Gandhi did, Mother Teresa did, MLK did, not just people who came to the earth, they shine a great light of a spirit, a big spirit, you know, I hate to get into religion, because like, you know, everybody's not a religious person, but that they came, and they shined the light of big spirit on humanity, made a good contribution, and then left and none, nobody, none of the names that I mentioned, nor I are perfect, or were perfect or will be perfect.
So integrity, to me is the amount of always trying to get it right and do good. And best by you and those around you and whoever you're in service to. That's what it looked
Love: I'm glad you mentioned that aspect of perfection to because I think a lot of people get caught up in what they do, right? Like always looking at, oh, well, these are the things I do, right. So they really want to ignore what we call that shadow self, that shadow side where those are the things you're not really proud of the aspects of yourself that are in you that you may not want people to see.
But still being able to stand up in it and say, okay, but this is who I am, you know, or in this is what I'm working towards, if that's something that you want to change. And I think you have to have a matter of self awareness to get to the space where you are being integral because how can you have integrity, if you're not being honest with yourself about who you are, first?
Chablis: You said something that that really, for me is important. And this is the shadow self. I never really heard it spoke like that, but that part that you really don't want a lot of people to see or know about you. And kind of kind of being honest with that, not kind of but really being honest with that. And I think that part of my own experience included incarceration, probably why I work so so intimately in the field of formerly incarcerated and helping people through the process of transition and become a successful but there's a lot of stigma, there's a lot of social stigma, there's a lot of pain. There's a lot of prejudice, discrimination on people who have come through that type of situation.
And like, Yo, if you came through incarceration, that means that along the way you broke the agreement with, with the social constructs or society, so to speak, you broke that agreement and that trust and so somewhere along the line, use a dirt bag, so to speak, if you just look in the context of upstanding citizenship, right? And so it was a point in my life and it still probably points in my life. I don't get it twisted, that I'm behaving in dirtbag ism. You know, I mean, like, I was a dirtbag before because I took this from somebody or I was pumping poison in my neighbourhood or whatever the case may be, like, maybe womanising or not being truthful in relationships, whatever, whatever I was doing, because I've probably done it. All right. There is a part of who I am today that is intimately tied to that. And being vulnerable, being naked, meaning come out and say, Yeah, I did that. Yeah, one time I saw a female that wasn't cool. And what happens is, I learned from that, and learning from that puts the sacrifice that happened in that time, man, that individual or whatever the case may be, it gives us a value now, because now I'm not that person. And now I'm supporting people who are going through those situations and saying, listen, that's not cool. What you're doing I'm saying is right or wrong, is it? Is it creating a better resolve? Are you having a more positive outcome are you uplifting, edifying people by your actions and if do not think about because if you want some dirtbag ism dawned on me no more dirtbags we got enough up.
I mean, and so and, and I'm never critical myself, at least for me, I'm never critical of the person who's going through their dark hours, because our dark hours are what gives us the motivation, the inspiration to go to the better days that we we get to eventually, and be who we become. So you got to go through something, right. And when you go through something, don't put it in a closet, or don't just suppress it in your memory, don't try to repress your thoughts about it, or to trauma behind it, live through it, heal from it, and then make it have a value going forward.
That's the only time is worth something.
And so that's where I think a lot of times, people will will confuse the value for what integrity looks like, like integrity don't look like being perfect and not falling short. It looks like when you realise that you fell short doing something about it. He said, and so so it's, I mean, like, I can go on and on for days about that topic. But what you said about like that quiet time, that dark self, the thing that you really don't want anybody to realise or know about you can be the most valuable lessons in life meeting was that people can, can can actually benefit from when you share it.
Love: That's the good. And you know what, we're not talking about the shadow self. I'm always thinking about it from like, a spiritual perspective. Because that's typically when people do that kind of work. You know, they call it shadow work, is like you're really examining your past, you're examining some patterns that you see in your actions, and figuring out like, wow, what do I see here? You know, is this something that's repeating itself? How is it impacting me?
And it's necessary to do that, but something you said really stood out to me when you were talking about how, when you get when you become incarcerated, you get perceived as a dirtbag because you took something from someone or whatever the case may be. And it goes back to that morality, where it's like, if you were in this state of, Okay, I gotta get it. Like, I need something and you're trying to get a need met. You're not always thinking clearly, because you're trying to get your needs met. And I think that's one of the things they're trying to integrate. When I say they, I mean, social workers policymakers, is helping them understand that when someone is in survival mode, things are different.
And that is where integrity that things that are embedded in you comes in, because you do have people who are like, You know what? I'm going through, I don't have it right now, but I don't gotta go take it from the next man. I'm gonna figure it out. You get what I'm saying. But oftentimes, you know, even people with integrity, your judgement can be impaired from you not having what you need, you know, your family's not eating or whatever the case may be. Everybody has a different trigger.
For some people. They may be, you know, they lost a couple of their cars, and that that's their pride and glory. Right, but for other people rock bottom, maybe. Oh, well, I had to tell my son that he had As to take out loans because I can't pay for school anymore. You know, everybody's situation looks different. And it's just a reminder that like, none of this is concrete, you know, it really is about your definition of things, how you view it, you know, integrity looks different to everybody.
But then you have what we call that moral code that standard that they want to hold everyone to, you know, where it's like, okay, at least now we'll have an equilibrium, so that people aren't trying to call integrity, something that's way down here in the gutter, you know, but then you don't have the standard so high that people feel like they have to conform to what somebody else deems as what integrity is, and vice versa.
So it's just so many different nuances. And the more I learn, the more I'm realising like, we just have a lot to learn, you're never going to know everything, you just really have to trust your process and figure out what all of these things look like for yourself. And that's why I'm doing this series, because there's people who they've never even heard, they may have heard the term integrity, but they don't know what that means. You know, and I feel like, when you expose someone else's point of view about something, you can sort of open up their world to show them like, this is what it looks like to me.
So how would you define it? Or even how would you reframe it if you don't even know what words to use? You know, for that to be something that you can see in your personal life at this moment. So when it comes to integrity, if you were teaching, let's say, a five year old, about integrity, how would you break that down to them?
Chablis: Well, so you know, teach a five year old, the meaning of integrity, you just teach them little life skills, right? Largely everything you need to know about life and integrity is taught and modelled almost before five years old by five years old, who got it all right, it's still simple things in life doing to others, share, be compassionate, show empathy, right? Be polite, and considerate. Those things define your level of integrity, right? on something you said, when you were speaking. And you were talking about moral compasses or moral codes, right.
And so the society or the social construct, as we know, it creates a level of moral turpitude, or a place where you can set your moral dial to say a due north is 90 degrees to the west, right? And then you can keep on going in that way. And it's very minimal. At that point. Like, if you're out, and you're in somebodies personal space, you're in it three to four feet, let's say six feet now, since we got this ocean business, and they put you in a six feet, right? You come in there. And if you come aggressive, mean spirited, or malicious, or whatever, then you're you're bumping down.
I mean, it's going down a whole lot. The moral plumb line, like the measurement that we use, for what integrity looks like, just in a general sense, right? And then it's this, the elevated sense of it, saying, when somebody else take the low row, when Michelle Obama say, we may go low, we go high, you know, somebody else takes a moral low, bro, here's a chance for you to show your integrity stance, and even more elevated rates. So so like, and some notes, you mentioned that that resonated, but kind of off what I'm saying. Like, I'm not teaching a five year rule, saying, hey, integrity is a B, C, D, E, F, G, I'm modelling a character, a way of being that they can hold on to and internalise. And they can be that way. And you're not what I said. Do you see what I did? I opened the door for a young lady. You see what I did when a man was being mean to that lady, that older lady? I wouldn't know the answer, sir. Let me take care of this. I got a man. Come on, how can I help? Right?
That's showing me a way of being that exemplifies integrity, right? What are you doing? You're not looking because like, I could be talking junk about the young guy or lady in my mind or in this room with you and then go outside and pretend like I'm a certain type of person. You see what I'm saying? So I wouldn't, I wouldn't seek to teach a five year old, fundamentally what integrity looks like, I would always be in a way that a person can see integrity in my behaviour. And we started the societal we started the societal value for what does a person behaving and integrity appear to have been doing? Right? That's, that's no be doing this. That's the way actually, they're, they behave this way. So they're being like this, they do these things.
And because of that they have these outcomes. You see what I'm saying? The other thing you said something about that I wanted to kind of jump on, because it was part of my experience, and I write about it in my book, is that a necessity obviously, is the mother or creation, like, if I need food, I'm gonna figure out a way to get money. Right? Even if that getting money looks like something that's illegal. Right? That was part of my experience, that was part of my own experience. And I also realised when I sat back, and isolation and I looked at everything that I had done, and what it had had produced for me, I realised that if I hadn't made just a smaller investment in something else, whatever, that's something that was maybe this outcome, this result might look different.
So wow, I'm, I'm familiar with the reality the condition of when I was when I was young, when I was 19 years old, I was shot in the back and critically inches so that I was paralysed, I ended paralysed right. And I had two young kids, and I didn't have any marketable skills, I got a shot when I was 18. So while I was going back to college, and I has SSI as my primary source of income, that won't pay for daycare, and pampers and milk and all the rest of that stuff. So out of a necessity to get those things, I relied on something that I knew could help me get them. So I was selling weed, right, so I could get those things. And I also could have took the Microsoft coding class that was being offered at Goodwill to people that were in my condition.
And I also could have been asked to now must a computer programmer, right, my spent over nine years in prison for I spent 13 years in prison for selling weed in drugs in order to make provisions for my young kids, because I didn't have marketable skills. But I also could have made a sacrifice, to go get marketable skills and go to work like everybody else. So a man, wow, I understand that condition. Like today, the level of my own personal conviction, and integrity, I would never make the same move that I made 1718 years ago, when I didn't have this level of awareness or this level of Yo, you know what, I'm not going below that, you know.
So now, if society's plumb line is on level for my own, may be on Level Nine, where I want to be as level 23 I want to be on level 23. So I still got more bumping it up to do in order to get there. But uh, that's that's the thing that's important at this stage in my life, right? Knowing better doing better being better, and who am I being nobody's looking? Who am I being when nobody's looking?
Listen to the rest of Love and Chablis' conversation in this podcast episode: