"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”
Integrity: Adherence to a code of values and soundness. Is it just me or has our society accepted corruption, deceit, and broken promises as the norm? Why do we have to enact laws to have executives and corporations to be straight up in their accounts and reports on earnings? Isn’t it interesting that since the Tsunami, our second-greatest concern is whether our relief efforts and supplies will ever reach the victims . . . or will our money end up lining the pockets of corrupt individuals, organizations, and governments?
the past couple of years, my company has hired a couple of contractors who have conducted themselves without integrity. Their values were set to over-promise and under-deliver rather than under-promise and over-deliver! Unfortunately, the result is that we are now more suspicious and cautious with new contractors and have a “prove that you are telling the truth” mindset.
Today’s rampant lack of integrity has cost us all billions of dollars (Do I have a great stock tip for you!), plus the immeasurable cost of reduced peace of mind.
Last year, my company implemented a new return policy because of what we felt was a lack of integrity from a small group of clients. Some organizations were placing large orders then, without warning, returning the entire order and expecting a full cash refund.
What bookstore will take your half-read book back for a refund? Many times, the products were damaged. This group was also very demanding. As a result, we no longer offer cash refunds, only a credit, minus a high-percentage restocking fee.
Not that long ago, we had a longstanding client engage us in a service contract. The project took several weeks to outline and confirm before its signing and launch. The contract states the project is non-cancelable for any reason but maybe postponed upon mutual agreement. Recently, the client phoned asking to cancel the contract and used our longstanding relationship as a potential reason that I would agree to this request. Ironically one of the focuses of that project was that his business had a destructive corporate culture of not keeping its promises or commitments. In discussion with others that I do trust, I agreed that the client’s request is out of integrity and not reasonable. It seems that some people find it a burden to keep their word!
So what about closer to home . . . How do you conduct your own life? Is it with or without integrity?
Integrity can apply to all areas of our lives and is constantly affecting our reputation and success. All of us at some time or another has been out of integrity. But the question is, do we own up to it and learn from the experience or do we continue to conduct ourselves in ways we don’t like to see in others?
It is easy to cite larger-than-life examples of lack of integrity (Enron) but what about the everyday mundane events and choices that established your level of integrity? Things like slacking at work and taking full pay for a half-hearted effort, skipping work, phoning in sick when you are out with your family or friends, or misrepresenting yourself to a new employer, client, or organization. Did you know that employee theft is one of the greatest losses to employers?
What about promises that you make and never intend to fulfill, like telling your friend you are busy when you simply did not feel like going out that night?
Some people think the little things (being out of integrity) don’t count! Oh, really! Integrity is an all-or-nothing way of thinking. Either you run your life in integrity or you don’t. How you act somewhere in the way you act everywhere. If you are suggesting situational integrity is okay, you are saying that your values or integrity are for sale — the amount needs to be negotiated before you decide if you have the integrity that day or not.
You should never compromise your values and integrity to reflect the poor conduct of others. I have been tempted on many occasions to consider compromising my integrity but, in the end, I could not because I would have simply become what I loathe.
I want to clarify that integrity or lack of it does not include situations where there is a difference of position or understanding. Some individuals confuse a legitimate difference of opinion with an integrity issue, when in fact it is simply a difference of opinion.
And integrity also has a personal perspective. This is where you are not honoring or being truthful with yourself. When you mislead or force yourself to believe you like your job (or something else) when in reality, deep down, you don’t like what is going on, aren’t you out of integrity with yourself?
The good news is that a shift is starting to happen in our society where we are not going to take it anymore — we expect, demand, and insist on integrity.
My encouragement to you is threefold.
1. First: none of us is perfect; we need to give ourselves some grace when we incur errors in judgment and when our integrity is called into question. The key is to acknowledge it and learn from it, and then move on.
2. Integrity is a choice (yes, there could be an exception, but that is rare) and you can, at any moment, choose to be in or out of integrity. It does not matter what others do!
3. Do not underestimate the importance of your personal integrity with yourself. Don’t deceive yourself on what values and beliefs are true or desirable for you. Call it the way it is; you will start to find new freedom and new-found energy from this approach.
Sometimes in life, confusion or lack of clarity about your own values can contribute to your being personally out of integrity.
Finally, surround yourself with friends, colleagues, and others who share your desire to live in integrity. It is much easier when you have models, examples, and support that reflect your commitment to a life based on integrity.
Living a Life based on Integrity
1. Integrity is an important and critical characteristic of Living on Purpose.
2. Do you live your life based on integrity?
3. What would others say about the way you conduct yourself? Do you keep your promises? Are you someone that people can trust?
4. Do you believe integrity is situational? If you feel it is situational, your values are for sale; it is simply a matter of price. How does that statement make you feel?
5. Does the conduct of others influence whether or not you act with integrity? If you are letting others determine how you act — immediately change that and independently choose your own path.
6. Integrity also applies to being truthful with yourself and your life situation. What is your level of integrity with yourself? If it is not as high as it could be, what do you need to change in terms of decisions and choices?
7. The ability to live in personal integrity is much easier when your values are set, clear, and defined. A values-based assessment may assist you in this process.
8. Nobody is perfect; give yourself some grace when you blow it. Simply acknowledge the shortcoming and learn from it for future reference. If you burden yourself with guilt, you will not be as productive and joyful as you could be.
9. Enjoy the freedom and positive feelings that come from living in integrity. Embrace the benefits; they are far and wide.
10. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who value integrity. Reduce, limit, or omit (if possible) contact with others who do not share your value of living in integrity.
Until next time, keep Living On Purpose