Integrity is doing precisely what you say you’ll do. Integrity requires self-knowledge and wisdom. It’s exercising the internal fortitude to live according to that self-knowledge and wisdom, rendering your word “as good as gold” with no need of an oath or promise to substantiate it.
No other principle or Standard is so basic and yet so critical to the success and happiness of each and every individual. Is that an overly dramatic assertion? Not a chance, because the alternatives to Integrity are corruption and hypocrisy where only insecurity thrives--certainly no trust. And without trust, there can be no solid foundation for any worthwhile relationship between people, groups or nations.
Since none of us want to run away from the fruits of Integrity, we need to completely grasp and hone our ability to recognize and live Integrity. What, then, is Integrity, and what are its primary components? There are several parts to this answer.
The first and simplest component deals with the quality of your word: The commitments you make all day long and how you follow through on them. From the promise you make that you’ll be somewhere at 10 o’clock, to the declaration of your goals--and the actions those declarations require—what you actually do will either strengthen your Integrity or destroy it.
So when being late becomes a habit, you’re saying that you don’t really respect the commitment or the people you made the commitment to--and neither do you respect your word. The unfortunate and unintended consequence is that you begin to not believe yourself when you say something. Deep inside yourself, you know that if you can’t even be somewhere when you say you will, you certainly won’t handle the more challenging actions that your ambitions require. That’s a dangerous position for someone who wants to excel and influence change in his/her life and this world. And it doesn’t have to be.
When you declare what you want in your life but fail to change your habits, you likewise tell your subconscious that you aren’t serious about your goals. And so you’ll find it difficult to get the big contract, cease the destructive habit, really experience peace or create the environment you want to work or live in.
The noted business philosopher Jim Rohn used to say, “Casualness leads to casualties.” Our casualness with regard to our words has the same effect. Those who want to live The Uncompromised version of their lives can’t afford to be casual. You and I do have a choice.
Don’t compromise your word. Your words matter too much; they’re the building blocks of your future and the road upon which you walk today.
Of course, each of us might fail to be on time once in a while. We’ll all over-commit or neglect to do what we need to do in order to get what we want. The point isn’t to lament our failures but to decide to strive toward something better, now!
The second component is the one most often missed in conversations regarding Integrity, and it concerns your identity--who you are…really.
“Who am I?” It’s the cry every one of us makes at some point in our lives. For many, asking the question is as far as they’ll get. They’ll stop looking and never discover the answer. But how can you live with Integrity if you don’t even know who you are? Doesn’t Integrity require knowing what you believe? Doesn’t Integrity then require a clear understanding of why you believe what you believe so you can actually live consistently with your beliefs?
It’s funny how many of us actually assume we have Integrity when we haven’t grasped this, done our work to discover who we are (and who we aren’t!) and then gone and lived it for a time.
Integrity starts here.
Who you are is more than where you were born or what you do for a living. Who you are is an incredibly unique combination of countless virtues of character, such as being bold, generous, creative, funny, peaceful, rigorous, gentle and so on. This, despite the efforts of religious, political and thousands of social groups to divide us, is really who you--who we all--are.
The recipe, for us to live Integrity, is a simple one: Live virtuously—be good! Integrity requires each of us to be these and many other great qualities as we live our lives through our religions, political ideologies, social mores, etc.
At the end of the day, we’re all the same. How we express these mutual and universally human truths certainly will vary, but it’s Integrity that makes the difference between a life that’s revered and a life that heads recklessly into infamy.
Both Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi had Enthusiasm. They both had an abundance of physical and emotional energy that they each plied with a positive, can-do attitude toward their chosen outcomes.
Both Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi exhibited boundless courage. They took dramatic actions that most (with similar feelings concerning their different endeavors) were unwilling to take to realize their goals.
Both Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi exercised Endurance. Neither were dabblers. They committed to a course of action, made adjustments and stuck with their plans in a way that could be sustained to achieve their individual objectives.
It’s within The Standard of Integrity that tyrants and fools are sifted out from The Uncompromised. It’s here that we all choose to follow truth or invest in a lie. Integrity demands that we accept that who we are is brilliant and capable—but more, it demands that we live according to that which we now know. Tyrants and fools simply can’t measure up to such a Standard.
So today you’ll choose, as will I and the rest of the world. Is your life and are your goals worth living Integrity? If you’re reading this, we both know the answer. Do your work and choose--and live--Integrity.