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How A String Of Bad Luck Taught Me A Valuable Lesson About Personal Integrity And Human Connection

Written by: Tara Sutorius, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


British writer C. S. Lewis famously said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” This quote has been very top of mind for me. You see, I have experienced a string of bad luck that has caused me to question the integrity of complete strangers when they think no one has caught them. The old proverb “bad things come in threes” has also been a little too close to home lately.

Picture this:

  1. December 2021: My SUV is stolen out of my partner’s driveway when we are sleeping. We wake up on a cold winter morning and, as we are sipping our morning coffee, we notice the car is missing from the driveway. According to local law enforcement, six cars were stolen from our neighborhood that same night. Damn – my favourite meditation book was in the backseat. Will the new owners appreciate it, I wonder?

  2. June 2022: I proudly park my brand-new Tesla in a lot far from all other cars so no one would ding me. I had decided to go fully electric after the theft of our gas-guzzling SUV. I figure karma wants me to make a better choice for the environment. When I leave the restaurant after a lovely Italian meal close to home, I discover my car has been spray-painted with black paint! According to my dashcam, the culprits appear to be three 11–12-year-old boys. Ok, now I am losing faith in future generations!

  3. August 2022: While pulling out of my driveway (in my partner’s vehicle) to head to the cottage, we suddenly notice that my car’s rear bumper is scratched down to the paint with tons of scuff marks including a broken sensor. I trace back my steps and realize someone must have hit my car the night before when it was parked in a dark public lot. An investigation of the dash cam footage (we are starting to feel like amateur private investigators by this point) reveals that a large black truck attempting to park in a super tight spot beside my car hits my bumper then takes off and parks farther away. Moments later the driver is seen walking by my car but does not stop. Did he know? Did he not know? These questions plague me for days. I finally go to the police station, footage in hand (minus a license plate) to report the hit and run.

What do these three incidents have in common? Well for one: I was nowhere in sight and so the perpetrators possibly considered their actions a victimless crime. The truth is that the impact of each incident described above affected me deeply not to mention the hours spent dealing with police, insurance adjustors, collision centers, etc. There were also several sleepless nights (I like to call them “dark night of the soul”) where I found myself questioning humanity, the state of the world, the integrity of future generations, and praying that I was raising good humans (I have two teenage sons).

Furthermore, as an empath, I fantasized in all three cases that I would come face-to-case which each culprit, not to shame them, but to coach them somehow to understand how the impact of their actions affected another human. Better yet, I told my partner, maybe all these challenges happened to give me some great content to write an article about personal integrity and how humans behave when they think no one is watching.

And just when I thought my article was fully baked, the young man from incident 3 contacted me! He discovered his truck had some white paint on it and put two and two together. He was able to track me down by contacting the manager of the restaurant we had both been dining at. We speak for nearly half an hour. I am firm but friendly. I am honest but compassionate. He listens. He is regretful, he is kind, and he shows me right away that he wants to make this right. And just like that… a short phone call between two human beings shifts my perspective. This young man displays immense personal integrity – the mark of a future leader.

He apologizes profusely and offers to pay for the damage fully plus personally drops off some gifts to make up for the stress the incident caused me over my family holiday. I share with him that his parents would be very proud of how he handled the situation. What this young man displayed very authentically were the essential character traits of impeccable integrity including:

  • Grace

  • Respect

  • Honesty

  • Trust

  • Accountability

  • Care

  • Patience

Reviewing this list of traits reminds me that these are the essential qualities of a values-based leader because at the heart of being a leader with integrity is a person who leads with their core values. While I echo CS. Lewis that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching, my experience lately has shown me that a true leader does the right thing always, especially when you have been in the wrong and have hurt or negatively impacted another person either directly or indirectly.

Finally, if you have experienced a similar “bad things happen in three” period lately, here’s a list of coaching questions you can ask yourself when you feel like you have lost faith:

  • What is the lesson in all of this?

  • How can I dig deep and discover an opportunity for growth?

  • What is the opportunity cost to me if I stay angry?

  • What beautiful thing could happen if I practice an open heart?

  • What might transpire if I forgive?

  • How can I transform conflict into connection?

You can never go wrong when you live with impeccable integrity - and trust that others are doing the best they can with what they have in a given moment.

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Tara Sutorius, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

As a certified professional coach trained with Erickson International Coaching, Barrett Values Centre and Career Joy, as well as an accredited PCC-level coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF), Tara Sutorius specializes in helping individuals better understand their personal core values so they may live a more purpose-driven life in alignment with what is most important to them in their personal and professional lives.

Tara is also the Director of Corporate Communications at Export Development Canada (EDC) and the founder of “Tara Sutorius Coaching and Wellness” – a coaching company offering compassionate, transformational and values-based personal leadership, career and wellness coaching. Working alongside senior leaders in both the private and public sector for over 20 years, Tara has a keen sense of what is required to be able to connect with one’s personal and professional leadership mission in order to effect meaningful change over the long-term and build greater resiliency both at home and at work.

What Tara loves most about coaching is helping guide individuals through powerful questioning and transformational conversations. Her coaching style is compassionate, action-oriented, motivational, connected and intuitive. She can help guide you to better align your values with your dream job, clarify your passions, set clear goals and take greater ownership of your career and overall wellness.



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