Integrity Matters

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Today and for the next couple of Fridays we will look at three key values — Integrity, Quality, and Service. These values may be more important today than ever before. Integrity is that value that so clearly permeates who we are that we simply cannot compartmentalize it. We are who we are whether at work, at play, or with others. A few quotes on integrity are listed at the bottom to help you see how integrity is viewed by others. So, everyone has something to say about integrity, but what is it? How can you define it? What does it mean to us today? To me, I think integrity mostly falls into these 5 buckets. A person with integrity will:

1. Inspire others by doing the right thing no matter what

The classical definition of integrity is living the right way, whether in public or private. Integrity is having a standard for living that you will not compromise. It is holding fast to your view of “true north” and staying the course regardless of the hurdles or the severity of the storm. I’m reminded of an example of integrity in the life of a friend of mine. He is a salesman. And, as is true with so many in his field, it is very competitive. Sometimes, salesmen may be tempted to cut corners or do things that might be deemed borderline. My friend said early in his career that he would not cross some lines. Despite being different than others, he has done very well. He has the respect of others for taking a personal stand. And, despite some opposition from others, he is often the top performer in his field. In the face of many temptations to compromise his personal values to get ahead, he maintains strong convictions that he will do the right thing no matter the outcome. I deeply respect him for that. He has integrity. A person with integrity will always to his/her best and inspire others to do their best… no matter what opposition is faced.

2. Live as though this is the only day you’ll ever have

Four days after my 16th birthday which include a surprise party and dozens of my friends attending, two of my very good friends and one of their mothers were killed in a tragic accident on the way home from basketball practice. One of the guys was my brother’s best friend. This was my first experience with this kind of loss. I was devastated and still think of them every February 10. This event changed me. It made me realize that tomorrow isn’t promised. I was with my friends at practice one minute and they were dead an hour later. Thus, I need to treat every situation, every conversation, every interaction with others as though it might be my last chance. I believe that having this viewpoint, makes a difference in how I treat others, how I handle commitments, and how I live. A person of integrity finds a way to cherish today and make the most of every opportunity. When you may not have a second chance, it gives you a new respect for doing things right the first time and dealing with others properly.

3. Respect others and always be kind

As we have said here before, “There is never a time when kindness is not warranted.” And, you can add respect to that. Answer this question, “When you think of a person with integrity, do you also characterize that person as a kind person?” An individual that thinks lowly of others, disrespects others, has unreasonable biases, or treats others unkindly could never make my personal “Integrity Hall of Fame.” If everyone believed and lived the principles expressed in the Golden Rule (“do to others as you would like them to do to you”), our world would be a very different place.

4. Be courageous

Part of always doing the right thing, is having the courage or boldness to actually do it. A person of integrity will stand strong in the face of opposition. This person is a mature oak in the storms that come. We need individuals that will challenge the status quo, that will stand up for what is wrong, or that will hold leaders accountable when needed. Integrity, by definition, is not compromising and this often means we put ourselves at risk. Courage by one always results in more courage for others, too. When you see one individual take a stand, you will likely see others join. You might be surprised how many others share your commitment to integrity, when given a chance. And, courage begets more courage… once you have taken a stand or demonstrated integrity, it becomes easier.

5. Serve others

I cannot think of integrity without thinking of service or selflessness. One of my favorite quotes is by John Wooden:

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

Perhaps it is unexpected that service to others would be on my list of characteristics of integrity. But, to me, serving others is essential as a leader, as a parent, as a friend… in every aspect of life. Most people fall into either the category of “giver” or “taker”. No one in the “taker” category would enter my personal “Integrity Hall of Fame.” A person with integrity is one that lives to make life better for others. It is a person dedicated, not to his/her own desires, but to adding value to others. A person with integrity will do what no one else wants to do, go where no one else wants to go, or be that force of comfort needed to allow others to move forward. A person of integrity will be the first one reaching to pull you up when you fall.

So, I hope you have a better appreciation of integrity in your life and in our workplace. Let’s embrace it and aspire to demonstrate it in how we live and work. The quote below by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. speaks largely to me when I think of how I live and what integrity really means:

“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.”

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A few quotes on integrity that might help you better formulate your definition:

· “With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” – Zig Ziglar

· “If you don’t have integrity, you have nothing. You can’t buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing.” – Henry Kravis

· “Integrity means that you are the same in public as you are in private.” – Joyce Meyer

· “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey

· “Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will.” – John D. MacDonald

· “It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.” – Zig Ziglar

· “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” – Chinua Achebe

· “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” – W. Clement Stone

· “You are in integrity when the life you are living on the outside matches who you are on the inside.” – Alan Cohen

· “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden

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Thanks for all you do. Let’s together honor the Value of Integrity. Have a super day and wonderful weekend!

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