Monthly Archives: November 2014

Avoiding the Titanic Mistake

In coaching we talk a lot about being ‘in integrity–being complete–being whole. I don’t remember much from math but I do remember the difference between whole numbers and fractions. Or ‘integers’, which are whole numbers and we derive the word ‘integrity’ from. So often my life feels more like a ‘fraction’ as do the lives of those I partner with to coach. They show up ‘fractured’ and our work focuses on helping them restore the integrity of their lives.

In the following article, Rick Warren explains the Titanic mistake and how being aware of this tendency to compartmentalize our lives can literally sink us.

James Cameron, producer of the movie Titanic, says, ‘The Titanic is a metaphor of life. We are all on the Titanic.’

When the Titanic set sail in 1912 it was declared to be ‘unsinkable’ because it was constructed using a new technology. The ship’s hull was divided into sixteen watertight compartments. Up to four of these compartments could be damaged or even flooded, and still the ship would float.

Tragically, the Titanic sank on 15 April 1912 at 2.20am. 1,513 people lost their lives. At the time it was thought that five of its watertight compartments had been ruptured in a collision with an iceberg.

However, on 1 September 1985, when the wreck of the Titanic was found lying upright on the ocean floor, there was no sign of the long gash previously thought to have been ripped in the ship’s hull. Now scientists posit that the collision’s impact buckled or loosened the seams in the adjacent hull plate’s core, causing them to separate and allowing water to flood in – thus sinking the unsinkable ship. What they discovered was that damage to one compartment affected all the rest.

Many people make the Titanic mistake. They think they can divide their lives into different ‘compartments’ and that what they do in one will not affect the rest. However, as Rick Warren (from whom I have taken this illustration) says, ‘A life of integrity is one that is not divided into compartments.’

Jesus was described as a ‘man of integrity’ (Matthew 22:16; Mark 12:14). David led the people with ‘integrity of heart’ (Psalm 78:72). The writer of Chronicles says that God tests the ‘heart’ and is ‘pleased with integrity’ (1 Chronicles 29:17).

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