The dictionary defines integrity as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles: moral uprightness. The state of being whole and undivided.”
The heart of integrity in business and life is doing what you say you will do. Honoring your word, your commitment. An ancient proverb describes it as, “a man who swears to his own hurt and does not change.” In other words, even if it hurts me, I will fulfill what I’ve committed to do.
“The state of being whole and undivided”. The opposite of this is being double minded, wishy-washy, undependable.
Temptations come up often in business. When a “better offer” comes up, will we take that advantage for the short term? Or will we recognize that your name, your reputation will be more valuable to you in the long term.
We would do well to ask the question, “How much weight does my word carry?” Would I be willing to subject myself to an independent appraisal of my integrity? Would you give permission for a survey to be done calling friends and former customers to give you a rating on how well you have kept your word?
Keeping our word in the small things grants us the power to keep it in the big things. Take a look at the small things: i.e. said I’d be there at 7 am and got there at 7:30 am. No big deal, right? Or is it?
Unless we see the value and power of being a person of integrity, and hold ourselves to a higher standard, we won’t go through the personal training it takes to build that inner power to demonstrate integrity.
Isn’t it all too easy to excuse not keeping my word because of really good excuses? My car died on me, the person who was suppose to give me a ride didn’t show up, it wasn’t my fault, yada, yada, yada.
Certainly, emergencies are going to come up. That’s life. But how many unfulfilled words have come out of my mouth because I haven’t cared enough about this virtue. Or because I haven’t disciplined myself in a number of different ways, such as time management, organization, work discipline, and even choosing better friends to surround myself with.
Two things I’ve learned in strengthening the attribute of Integrity:
- Count the cost before I commit. From taking a few minutes to taking a few days to examine what my commitment will truly cost me in time, my talents and my finances.
- Don’t talk so much. When I watch what I say, I don’t get caught in the trap of “loose” commitments as much as I used to.
When I know a person, who has this shared value of integrity, that’s who I want to do business with. I want to be a person others can count on to honor their word. And I want to engage with those who esteem the virtue of honoring their word, Integrity.