[do action=”vfdictstart” title=”in·teg·ri·ty”/] [do action=”vfdictitem” contents=”adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”/] [do action=”vfdictitem” contents=”the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.”/] [do action=”vfdictitem” contents=”a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.”/] [do action=”vfdictend”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” author=”Confucius”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” author=”Nelson Mandela”/]
Adherence to moral principles. Congruence in thought, spoken word, and deed.
To have integrity, all three must be the same. Say what you think, do what you say.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.” author=”Baltasar Gracian”/] Throughout his administration, Abraham Lincoln was a president under fire, especially during the scarring years of the Civil War. And though he knew he would make errors of office, he resolved never to compromise his integrity. So strong was this resolve that he once said, “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me.” [do action=”vfquote” quote=”The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” author=”Zig Ziglar”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Integrity has no need of rules.” author=”Albert Camus”/]
Integrity is the virtue of practicing what one preaches. Or more importantly, practicing what one believes is right. A ‘man of principle’ is not a man who understands a principle, but a man who understands, accepts, and lives by a principle. There are many reasons why integrity is a virtue.
The first and most important reason to practice one’s beliefs is that if they are right, you will be benefiting your own life. To understand other virtues or principles, and not act by them, is destructive. It is an act against your own best interest. Any deviation from what you know to be right is an attack on your own life.
The second reason to practice integrity is that it is an affirmation that your ideas benefit your life. To act contrary to your own knowledge is accepting the premise that morality is somehow different from you own self-interest, and that bypassing morality will somehow make your life better. Instead of seeing morality as a tool for survival, you see it as a restriction that makes life more difficult. Every act that violates your integrity weakens the moral habit, until your emotions are unaligned with your thoughts. Further, it is an attack on the efficacy of one’s mind. To act against your own ideas is to claim your own incompetence, or to claim the general inadequacy of reason to guide your life. Since reason is your means of survival, you will be abandoning your life.
A third reason to practice integrity is in dealing with others. A man who practices what he preaches is predictable, and few will feel threatened by it. Trust can develop, since others will come to realize you are consistently virtuous. To act without integrity, even occasionally, will leave others distrustful. This can negatively impact one’s life in a number of ways. People won’t allow themselves to become emotionally close to you. They won’t trust that you’ll pay back debts. They’ll always fear your betrayal.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”I cannot find language of sufficient energy to convey my sense of the sacredness of private integrity” author=”Ralph Waldo Emerson”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”I am persuaded there is among the mass of our people a fund of wisdom, integrity, and humanity which will preserve their happiness in a tolerable measure” author=”John Adams”/]
Integrity consists of perceived consistency between sets of actions, values, methods, measures and principles in value systems. One can describe a person as having integrity to the extent that everything that that person does or believes: actions, methods, measures and principles — all derive from the same core group of values and form a value system. While those values may change their consistency with each other and with the person’s actions determine the person’s degree of integrity. One’s value system may evolve over time while retaining integrity if one accounts for and resolves inconsistencies. Integrity is personal honesty: acting according to one’s beliefs and values at all times. Speaking about integrity can emphasize the “wholeness” or “intactness” of a moral stance or attitude.
Integrity is a key virtue because accountability and moral responsibility are necessary tools for maintaining consistency between one’s actions and one’s principles, methods and measures, especially when an expected result appears incongruent with observed outcome.
Hypocrisy — which some people consider the opposite of integrity — results when one part of a value system becomes demonstrably at odds with another and the person or group of people holding those values fails to account for the discrepancy.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” author=”William Shakespeare”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” author=”Alan Simpson”/]
Integrity (Who will Know?)
In China’s later Han era, there lived a politician called Yang Zhen, a man known for his upright character. After Yang Zhen was made a provincial governor, one of his earlier patrons, Wang Mi, paid him an unexpected visit. As they talked over old times, Wang Mi brought out a large gold cup and presented it to Yang Zhen. Yang Zhen refused to accept it, but Wang Mi persisted, saying, “There’s no one here tonight but you and me, so no one will know.” “You say that no one will know,” Yang Zhen replied, “but that is not true. Heaven will know, and you and I will know too.” Wang Mi was ashamed, and backed down. Subsequently Yang Zhen’s integrity won increasing recognition, and he rose to a high post in the central government.
Human nature is weak, and we tend to yield to temptation when we think nobody can see us. In fact, if there was no police force, many people would not hesitate to steal. This is not to say that when we do something bad, we feel no compunction at all, just that man is weak and prone to yield to temptation. But even if nobody witnesses our sins, and not a soul knows of them, we cannot hide the truth from the eyes of our conscience. In the end, what is important is not that other people know, but that we ourselves know. When Yang Zhen told Wang Mi that “Heaven will know,” he meant that the gods would know what he had done: in other words, his own conscience.
A person who sins neither in thought nor deed, and is fair and just, gains enormous courage and strength. As a leader, you need courage born of integrity in order to be capable of powerful leadership. To achieve this courage, you must search your heart, and make sure that your conscience is clear and your behavior is beyond reproach.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Character is much easier kept than recovered.” author=”Thomas Paine”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.” author=”French Proverb”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of integrity.” author=”Albert Einstein”/]
Have you heard the story about integrity that involved an Indiana judge named William Bontrager. Bontrager had to pass sentence on Fred Palmer, a decorated Vietnam veteran who was found guilty of burglary. The crime was caused partly by involvement with drugs and alcohol. Indiana law required a sentence of ten to twenty years for Palmer’s offense. However, new regulations designating a lesser penalty had gone into effect eighteen days after Palmer’s arrest. To complicate matters, Palmer had become a Christian in jail and seemed to have changed. Should the judge sentence Palmer, a man who had never been in jail, to ten years or more? Or should he declare the older statute in violation of Indiana’s constitution and give him a lighter sentence? Bontrager did the latter. Fred Palmer was out of jail in seven months, had a job, and was paying back his former victims. The events that followed received national attention. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed the judge’s decision and ordered Fred Palmer sent back to prison. The judge’s attempts to fight the court’s decision during the next two years led to his own indictment for criminal contempt of court and, finally, his forced resignation. Fred Palmer was sent back to prison, only to be released twenty months later by the governor. Bontrager’s convictions cost him his job, but not his integrity.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Character is higher than intellect.” author=”Ralph Waldo Emerson”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” author=”Abraham Lincoln”/]
Teddy Roosevelt’s Integrity
During his time as a rancher, Theodore Roosevelt and one of his cowpunchers lassoed a maverick steer, lit a fire, and prepared the branding irons. The part of the range they were on was claimed by Gregor Lang, one of Roosevelt’s neighbors. According to the cattleman’s rule, the steer therefore belonged to Lang. As his cowboy applied the brand, Roosevelt said, “Wait, it should be Lang’s brand.”
“That’s all right, boss,” said the cowboy.
“But you’re putting on my brand,” Roosevelt said.
“That’s right,” said the man.
“Drop that iron,” Roosevelt demanded, “and get back to the ranch and get out. I don’t need you anymore. A man who will steal for me will steal from me.”[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” author=”Henry Ford”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one.” author=”Chinese Proverb”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”You can easily judge the integrity of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” author=”James D. Miles”/]
Golfers with Integrity?
As professional golfer Ray Floyd was getting ready to tap in a routine 9-inch putt, he saw the ball move ever so slightly. According to the rule book, if the ball moves in this way the golfer must take a penalty stroke. Yet consider the situation. Floyd was among the leaders in a tournament offering a top prize of $108,000. To acknowledge that the ball had moved could mean he would lose his chance for big money. Writer David Holahan describes as follows what others might have done: “The athlete ducks his head and flails wildly with his hands, as if being attacked by a killer bee; next, he steps back from the ball, rubbing his eye for a phantom speck of dust, all the while scanning his playing partners and the gallery for any sign that the ball’s movement has been detected by others. If the coast is clear, he taps the ball in for his par. Ray Floyd, however, didn’t do that. He assessed himself a penalty stroke and wound up with a bogey on the hole.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” author=”William Shakespeare, Hamlet”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” author=”Aristotle”/]
In his book Integrity, Ted Engstrom told his story: “For Coach Cleveland Stroud and the Bulldogs of Rockdale County High School (Conyers, Georgia), it was their championship season: 21 wins and 5 losses on the way to the Georgia boys’ basketball tournament last March, then a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the state finals. “But now the new glass trophy case outside the high school gymnasium is bare. Earlier this month the Georgia High School Association deprived Rockdale County of the championship after school officials said that a player who was scholastically ineligible had played 45 seconds in the first of the school’s five postseason games. ‘We didn’t know he was ineligible at the time; we didn’t know it until a few weeks ago,’ Mr. Stroud said. ‘Some people have said we should have just kept quiet about it, that it was just 45 seconds and the player wasn’t an impact player. But you’ve got to do what’s honest and right and what the rules say. I told my team that people forget the scores of basketball games; they don’t ever forget what you’re made of.'”[do action=”vfquote” quote=”A pure hand needs no glove to cover it.” author=”Nathaniel Hawthorne”/]
Integrity ( Even when it hurts!)
Several years ago, in Long Beach, California, a fellow went into a fried chicken place and bought a couple of chicken dinners for himself and his date late one afternoon. The young woman at the counter inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day-a whole bag of money (much of it cash) instead of fried chicken. After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to open the meal and enjoy some chicken together. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken–over $800! But he was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. Mr. Clean got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. By then the manager was frantic. The guy with the bag of money looked the manager in the eye and said, “I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money. Here.” Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, “Oh, great, let me call the newspaper. I’m gonna have your picture put in the local newspaper. You’re the most honest man I’ve heard of.” To which they guy quickly responded, “Oh no, no, don’t do that!” Then he leaned closer and whispered, “You see, the woman I’m with is not my wife…she’s uh, somebody else’s wife.”[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” author=”George Bernard Shaw”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”You can out-distance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you.” author=”Rwandan Proverb”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.” author=”Confucius”/]
What Integrity Means
By Terry Cole-Whittaker
Integrity means to be who you are. Being true to one’s self, one’s values, beliefs, and standards is essential when it comes to spiritual success. Everywhere around us people and situations are pulling at us to forget our priorities and fall back into old unwanted, unsatisfying and unproductive ways. That is why it is difficult to make the changes we would like.
If we are to be, do and have what is important to us, we must be strong and courageous and therefore hold our own in any and all circumstances.
Questions you may have are:
- How can you be who you are and still please others?
- How do you deal with forces pulling on you?
- What is the best way to be strong?
Is seeking approval worth it?
When we pander for approval from others and trade our values and beliefs for it, we will suffer the consequences. We do this only because we think that others have something that we want and to get it, we must be as they want us to be. But let us ask this questions: “What will this cost me? And is it worth it?”
Goals require sacrifices
Whatever we want to attain, we must let go of the lesser in order to obtain the greater. Every goal requires sacrifices of this sort. Old habits of thinking and behaving prevent us from manifesting our topmost desires and goals. There is no way that one can continue to behave as a victim and also become victorious.
Be true to yourself
Allowing others to determine what we think, feel, say and do means that we shall become as they are. “To thine own self be true,” is a must if we are to be all that we are capable of becoming. Once we can see how we are swayed this way and that by the desires, words and actions of others, we can begin to make progress. Then an inner resolve to be true to one’s self, goals, ethics and principles needs to be made.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” author=”Henry Wadsworth Longfellow”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.” author=”Pietro Aretino”/]
Integrity is a concept that rests upon consistency of expectations, principles, values, methods, measures, actions and outcomes. Integrity differs from honesty in that Integrity is a subjective concept and one can only judge the integrity of others per the values, beliefs and principles they claim to uphold. Ultimately, we are the only ones capable of defining and measuring our integrity. The higher the standards we set for ourselves, the higher the standard we can set for our students, peers, friends, and family.
Law professor and social-policy writer Stephen L. Carter sees integrity “not only a refusal to engage in behavior that evades responsibility, but also as an understanding of different modes or styles in which discourse attempts to uncover a particular truth.”
Carter claims that integrity requires three steps: discerning what is right and what is wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong.
How we define integrity, the social and cultural value we place upon it, and the extent to which we hold individuals and entities (both public and private) accountable to their claims and for their actions will dictate our future.
Let’s see if we can’t set our standards a little higher.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Be always sure you’re right, then go ahead.” author=”Davy Crockett”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Subtlety may deceive you; integrity never will.” author=”Oliver Goldsmith”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”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.” author=”W. Clement Stone”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.” author=”H. Jackson Brown, Jr.”/]
A Battle for Integrity
By Charles R. Swindoll
I must tell you that I have been troubled regarding the face of things in our country. My major battle has had to do with one word, one concept. My battle has to do with integrity.
In our nation there has been a falling away, a breakdown, and a compromise in integrity. Recent headlines have taught us that the boom of the 1990s was built on a foundation devoid of integrity. But compromise isn’t limited to CEOs who greedily sell out their employees or to pork-happy politicians.
Let me define what I mean by integrity. Webster’s tells us integrity means “an unimpaired condition.”1 It means to be sound. The Hebrew word for integrity, tom, also means to be complete or solid.
Integrity is completeness or soundness. You have integrity if you complete a job even when no one is looking. You have integrity if you keep your word even when no one checks up on you. You have integrity if you keep your promises. Integrity means the absence of duplicity and is the opposite of hypocrisy. If you are a person of integrity, you will do what you say. What you declare, you will do your best to be. Integrity also includes financial accountability, personal reliability, and private purity. A person with integrity does not manipulate others. He or she is not prone to arrogance or self-praise. Integrity even invites constructive and necessary criticism because it applauds accountability. It’s sound. It’s solid. It’s complete.
Integrity is rock-like. It won’t crack when it has to stand alone, and it won’t crumble though the pressure mounts. Integrity keeps one from fearing the white light of examination or resisting the exacting demands of close scrutiny. It’s honesty at all costs.
The words of Louis Adamic seem fitting, “There is a certain blend of courage, integrity, character and principle which has no satisfactory dictionary name but has been called different things at different times in different countries. Our American name for it is ‘guts.'”
I like that. Integrity is having the guts to tell the truth, even if it may hurt to do so. Integrity is having the guts to be honest, even though cheating may bring about a better grade.
But there are some things integrity is not. It is not sinless perfection. A person with integrity does not live a life absolutely free of sin. No one does. But one with integrity quickly acknowledges his failures and doesn’t hide the wrong.
Now, in addressing this crucial mark of character, I could come across as the “white knight,” but you know me better than that. I fail like everyone else. The sooner you remember that, the better we’ll get along. But concerning the issue of integrity, I give you my word. You will know if I have failed or if Insight for Living has failed in some way. I will tell you. I will not lead you to believe something is true if it is false.
Integrity is essential in our schools, our churches, in the marketplace, and especially in our homes. When you walk in integrity, you leave it as a legacy for your children to follow (Proverbs 20:7). It’s what I call the father’s thumbprint. Blessed are you if you had a father with integrity and a mother with guts.
Over 50 years ago, Elton Trueblood wrote,
It is hard to think of any job in which the moral element is lacking. The skill of the dentist is wholly irrelevant if he is unprincipled and irresponsible. There is little, in that case, to keep him from extracting teeth unnecessarily, because the patient is usually in a helpless situation. It is easy to see the harm that can be done by an unprincipled lawyer. Indeed, such a man is far more dangerous if he is skilled than if he is not skilled.
Do you put wire in walls? Do you repair cars? Do you work with numbers? Do you sell clothes? Perhaps you practice law or medicine. The important thing is not what work you do, but whether you do your work with integrity. Perhaps you labor behind the scenes, and your only thanks is the inner satisfaction of a job done right. Do you cheat on your exams? Are you cheating on your mate? Some have the audacity to do such things and call themselves Virtuous. No wonder the world is confused!
You want to shock the world? Start here–demonstrating the guts to do what’s right when no one is looking. It takes real guts to stand strong with integrity in a culture weakened by hypocrisy.
Start today.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I have ever met.” author=”Dwight Lyman Moody”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was less competition there. ” author=”Indira Gandhi”/]
Charlton Heston and Integrity
Charlton Heston stood up at a Time/Warner stockholders’ meeting some time ago and read the shocking lyrics of certain rock songs that passed for “entertainment” in the judgment of that corporation. He said that he expected he would never again be invited to make a film with Warner Brothers and would win many enemies, but that he had a moral obligation to do what he could to start cleaning up some of the filth that is demoralizing contemporary society. He announced to his stunned audience that his integrity meant more to him than his status in the eyes of Time/Warner. As he read the lyrics that were rife with sexism, racism, and violence, “The Time/Warner executives,” according to Heston, “squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that.” Nonetheless, much good did result from his address.
The sacrifice of fame and fortune, to whatever extent, however, does not compare with the sacrifice of one’s integrity. In his impassioned speech to the stockholders, Mr. Heston would have done well to quote Kierkegaard: “Or can you think of anything more frightful than that it might end with your nature being resolved into a multiplicity, that you really might become many, become, like those unhappy demoniacs, a legion, and you thus would have lost the inmost and holiest thing of all in a man, the unifying power of personality?”[do action=”vfquote” quote=”To be prosperous is not to be superior, and should form no barrier between men. Wealth out not to secure the prosperous the slightest consideration. The only distinctions which should be recognized are those of the soul, of strong principle, of incorruptible integrity, of usefulness, of cultivated intellect, of fidelity in seeking the truth.” author=”William Ellery Channing”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-night useless, since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience the injustice of our fellows.” author=”Moliere”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”A dewdrop is a perfect integrity that has no filial memory of its parentage.” author=”Rabindranath Tagore”/]
Integrity. It is more than simple honesty. It’s the key to success. A person with integrity has the — often rare — ability to pull everything together, to make it all happen no matter how challenging the circumstances.
Integrity can make us or break us.
There are six qualities of character that define integrity:
- People with integrity are able to connect with others and build trust.
- People with integrity are oriented toward reality and are honest with themselves.
- People with integrity always finish well, win or lose.
- People with integrity can embrace the negative (lemons) and make lemonade.
- People with integrity are oriented toward increase (everybody wins solutions).
Have an understanding of the transcendent
Success is not related to only talent or brains. There are a lot of bright, talented people who are never successful. And the most successful are not only the ones with the most talent. The real factor, Cloud demonstrates, is the makeup of the person. All of us can grow in the kinds of real character that bring about fruitful relationships and achievement of purpose, mission, and goals. Integrity is not something that you either have or don’t, but instead is an exciting growth path that all of us can engage in and enjoy.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Set your expectations high; find men and women whose integrity and values you respect; get their agreement on a course of action; and give them your ultimate trust.” author=”John Akers”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Don’t worry so much about your self-esteem. Worry more about your character. Integrity is its own reward.” author=””/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” author=”Spencer Johnson”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”He who closes his ears to the views of others shows little confidence in the integrity of his own views” author=”William Congrev”/]
Why Integrity Is Never Easy
By Ron Ashkenas
Browse through the mission, vision, or value statements that corporations post on their websites, and you’ll notice that almost every company includes a statement about integrity. And if you Google the following examples, you’ll find that many companies use these stock phrases:
- “We combine integrity with excellence…”
- “We act with integrity in all we do.”
- “We hold honesty and integrity as our guiding principles.”
- “We are proud of the integrity, sincerity and transparency our employees demonstrate every day.”
Morally upright statements, right? But have you ever wondered why they are needed in the first place? After all, integrity should be the basic building block for doing business: Nobody wants to get involved with a company that lies, cheats, and tricks its customers; nor do people want to work for a company (or a manager) that is dishonest and disingenuous with employees. In other words, integrity should be a given, without the need to trumpet its existence. As one senior executive said to me, “Integrity is a threshold characteristic for our people — if they don’t have it, they aren’t here.”
Yet it’s not that simple, for two reasons: First is the innate human ability to rationalize behavior. For example, if you ask high school students whether or not it is right to cheat, most will say that cheating is wrong. Yet research suggests that as many as 95% of such students admit to having engaged in some form of cheating. Most of the time, this involves a specific incident where the students had to make a choice. In hindsight, the students justify the choice as “not really cheating,” “no big deal,” or something that “everyone else does.” In other words, they rationalize their situational behavior, and this way they can still consider themselves to be honest.
The reality is that all of us (and not just students) face integrity-based choices on a regular basis. Do we tell customers about all of the warts on our products? Do we reveal everything to a prospective buyer during due diligence? Is it acceptable to hide certain aspects of our background in a résumé? What’s considered a legitimate expense on a business trip? How much of billable time is really devoted to a client? How honest should I be when giving feedback to my boss or subordinate? None of these situations have clear answers — and no corporate policy can cover every contingency. As a result, no matter what choice we make, we can convince ourselves that it was made with integrity.
And that leads to the second reason why integrity is so difficult: Everyone defines integrity differently. Falsifying information to one person might be considered an acceptable business practice to another. This is further exacerbated by differences in culture — for example in some business cultures people are expected to openly do favors for each other, while in other cultures those favors would be considered bribes.
The power of rationalization and the difficulties of definition reveal integrity as a subject that is neither easy nor simple. That’s why solely relying on compliance functions, policies, rules, and audits — the integrity police — is usually inadequate. These mechanisms guard against gross and clearly illegal violations of integrity standards, but they do not deal with the integrity choices that we face every day. These choices require personal judgment.
In some ways the value statements about integrity are meant to remind us that integrity is not just a corporate responsibility, but a personal one as well. If you are a manager, you can apply these values by setting aside time with your team to share integrity dilemmas and choices and discuss the thinking behind individuals’ decisions. Make sure these meetings take place in a “safe” environment, where people can openly share their thoughts. If you hold these discussions regularly, you’ll gradually get beyond the rationalizations and develop more common definitions of what is acceptable and what is not — which is the essence of an integrity culture.[do action=”vfquote” quote=”Winning is nice if you don’t lose your integrity in the process.” author=”Arnold Horshak”/] [do action=”vfquote” quote=”Just being honest is not enough. The essential ingredient is executive integrity.” author=”Philip Crosby”/]
How to be a Person of Integrity
You are a person of integrity to the degree to which you live your life consistent with the values that you espouse. Integrity is the quality that locks in your values and causes you to live consistent with them. In short, a person of integrity practices what they preach. Here are some things to look at when trying to judge your own integrity:
- Are you honest with yourself? Are you living consistently with your own values and virtues?
- Are the behaviors that you engage in on a daily basis consistent with your values? How do you handle the unexpected ups and downs of life? What you say, what you do, says a lot about the kind of person that lies behind your worldly mask.
- Your integrity shows itself in your work. Do you strive to do the very best you can at all your work? Your job. Your studies and homework? A person of true integrity realizes that everything they do is a statement about who they really are. Your actions speak so loudly that people can no longer hear your words.
- Do you know what you stand for? It’s what you stand for, and what you don’t stand for, that tells you and the world what kind of person you are.
- What are the five most important values in life? What would you pay for, sacrifice for, suffer for and even die for? What would you stand up for, or refuse to lie down for? What do you treasure? What makes you get out of bed every morning? What drives you? What is the guiding and motivating force in your life? The answers to these questions form the foundation of your character. Whenever you are forced to choose between acting on one value or another, always choose the value that is the highest on your own personal hierarchy.
- Are you constant and consistent? Can people rely on you, or are you a flake? How devoted are you to keeping your word? Can you always be trusted to do the right thing?
- What kind of shape is your reputation in? Do you guard it? Can you fix it? What do you have a reputation for?
- Do you hang out with people of integrity? Do you surround yourself with people of character? Birds of a feather flock together.
- What kind of communication do you have with your inner voice? Do you know the difference between the whispers in your ear from the “Angel” on your right shoulder, and the “Devil” on your left ?
- Are your relationships with family and friends completely honest? Are you living a lie? When you are doing and saying one thing on the outside, but really feeling and believing something different on the inside, it makes life miserable. Open up, spill the beans, everyone will benefit from your honesty.
Just remember that it is easy to make promises and hard to keep them, but if you do, every single act of integrity will make your character a little stronger. And as you improve the quality and strength of your character, every other part of your life will improve as well. In no time at all, your family, friends, team mates, teachers, and co-workers will see and appreciate the difference in your relationships with them.
“Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude, and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.”
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.”
“To thine own self be true”
( Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82)
Polonius: This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
“To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes, who is in a hurry to get on the next boat to Paris, where he’ll be safe from his father’s long-winded speeches. Polonius has in mind something much more Elizabethan than the New Age self-knowledge that the phrase now suggests. As Polonius sees it, borrowing money, loaning money, carousing with women of dubious character, and other intemperate pursuits are “false” to the self. By “false” Polonius seems to mean “disadvantageous” or “detrimental to your image”; by “true” he means “loyal to your own best interests.” Take care of yourself first, he counsels, and that way you’ll be in a position to take care of others. There is wisdom in the old man’s warnings, of course; but he repeats orthodox platitudes with unwonted self-satisfaction. Polonius, who is deeply impressed with his worldliness, has perfected the arts of protecting his interests and of projecting seeming virtues, his method of being “true” to others. Never mind that this includes spying on Hamlet for King Claudius. Never mind, as well, that many of Polonius’s haughty, if not trite, kernels of wisdom are now taken as Shakespeare’s own wise pronouncements on living a proper life.
The Man in the Mirror
By Dale Wimbrow
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.
For it isn’t your father or mother or wife,
Who judgment upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one starring back from the glass.
He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest.
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed the most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years.
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be the heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.
The Man of Integrity
There are times in the life of every man who takes his stand on high moral principles when his faith in, and knowledge of, those principles is tested to the uttermost, and the way in which he comes out of the fiery trial decides as to whether he has sufficient strength to live as a man of Truth, and join the company of the free, or shall still remain a slave and a hireling to the cruel taskmaster, Self.
Such times of trial generally assume the form of a temptation to do a wrong thing and continue in comfort and prosperity, or to stand by what is right and accept poverty and failure; and so powerful is the trial that, to the tempted one, it plainly appears on the face of things as though, if he chooses the wrong, his material success will be assured for the remainder of his life, but if he does what is right, he will be ruined forever.
Frequently the man at once quails and gives way before this appalling prospect which the Path of Righteousness seems to hold out for him, but should he prove sufficiently strong to withstand this onslaught of temptation, then the inward seducer the spirit of self, assumes the grab of an Angel of Light, and whispers, “Think of your wife and children; think of those who are dependent upon you; will you bring them down to disgrace and starvation?”
Strong indeed and pure must be the man who can come triumphant out of such a trial, but he who does so, enters at once a higher realm of life, where his spiritual eyes are opened to see beautiful things; and then poverty and ruin which seemed inevitable do not come, but a more abiding success comes, and a peaceful heart and a quiet conscience. But he who fails does not obtain the promised prosperity, and his heart is restless and his conscience troubled.
The man who fearing the loss of present pleasures or material comforts, denies the Truth within him, can be injured, and robbed, and degraded, and trampled upon, because he has first injured, robbed and degraded, and trampled upon his own nobler self; but the man of steadfast virtue, of unblemished integrity, cannot be subject to such conditions, because he has denied the craven self within him and has taken refuge in Truth. It is not the scourge and the chains which make a man a slave, but the fact that he is a slave.
Slander, Accusation, and malice cannot affect the righteous man, nor call from him any bitter response, nor does he need to go about to defend himself and prove his innocence. His innocence and integrity alone are a sufficient answer to all that hatred may attempt against him. Nor can he ever be subdued by the forces of darkness, having subdued all those forces within himself; but he turns all evil things to good account – out of darkness he brings light, out of hatred love, out of dishonor honor; and slanders, envies, and misrepresentations only serve to make more bright the jewel of Truth within him, and to glorify his high and holy destiny.
Let the man of integrity rejoice and be glad when he is severely tried; let him be thankful that he has been given an opportunity of proving his loyalty to the noble principles which he has espoused; and let him think: “Now is the hour of holy opportunity! Now is the day of triumph for Truth! Though I lose the whole world I will note desert the right!” So thinking, he will return good for evil, and will think compassionately of the wrong-doer.
The slanderer, the backbiter, and the wrong-doer may seem to succeed for a time, but the Law of Justice prevails; the man of integrity may seem to fail for a time, but he is invincible, and in none of the worlds, visible or invisible, can there be forged a weapon that shall prevail against him.
Two Stories with a moral of “Integrity”
Al Capone and Easy Eddie
Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.
To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.
Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object.
And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example. He couldn’t give his son integrity.
One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.
He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street .. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.
The poem read: “The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”
World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare.
He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.
His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber’s blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.
Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.
Deeply relieved, Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.
Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942 , and for that action Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor.
A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch’s memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2.
So what do these stories have to do with each other and the moral of integrity?
Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.
Integrity and Business
People with high integrity are more likely to treat you with respect and do what is right at a reasonable price. There’s something about ethics and integrity that just take care of about everything else in the rest of life. If you have morals and ethics instill that a young age, integrity follows with much success into adulthood. When you find people to do business with that have great ethics and integrity, you in turn will tell your friends about how wonderful they are. This helps the business get even more business and grow as time goes on.
In 1982 and 1986, someone put cyanide in Tylenol capsules. If you are alive, you probably remember hearing this story. Johnson & Johnson immediately pulled all Tylenol off of the shelves everywhere. They were not concerned with how much money this was going to cost the company, they were concerned with the safety of the American people. There were millions and millions of dollars worth of Tylenol pulled off the shelves all at once, creating a huge financial problem for Johnson and Johnson at the time.
By making this decision quickly and effectively, Johnson & Johnson restored all credibility within the American population. This decision led to the American population knowing and understanding the Johnson & Johnson was a company of high integrity. Everyone started trusting Johnson & Johnson even more after this unfortunate incident. Johnson & Johnson also created tamperproof containers to put their Tylenol capsules into. When you purchased a bottle of Tylenol, you knew it was sealed and not tampered with in any way. You could fully trust their name and ability to provide you with high quality products. As a result, their business grew even bigger.
A Boy of Integrity
A story is told of an English farmer at work one day in his fields when he saw a party of huntsmen riding about his farm. Concerned that they might ride into a field where the crop could be damaged by the tramp of horses, he sent one of his workmen to shut the gate and then keep watch over it and on no account to open it. He had scarcely arrived at his post when the hunters came up and ordered that the gate be opened. He declined to do so, stating the orders he had received, and steadfastly refused to open the gate in spite of the threats and bribes as one after another of the hunters came forward.
Then one of the riders came up and said in commanding tones, “My boy, do you know me? I am the Duke of Wellington, one not accustomed to being disobeyed, and I command you to open that gate, that I and my friends may pass through.”
The boy lifted his hat, and before the man whom all England delighted to honor, answered firmly, “I am sure the Duke of Wellington would not wish me to disobey orders. I must keep this gate shut, nor suffer anyone to pass but by my master’s express permission.”
Greatly pleased, the duke lifted his own hat and said, “I honor the man or boy who can be neither bribed or frightened into doing wrong. With an army of such soldiers, I could conquer not only the French, but the world.”