Integrity is a noun, defined in a few different ways. One definition is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles and moral uprightness. Another definition is the state of being whole and undivided. A third is the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction; having internal consistency and lack of corruption.
Integrity is “an inside job” and like character or physical muscle, integrity is built and maintained by your own efforts. It helps create trust between you and your friends, family and strangers, between political leaders and citizens, between customers and companies, or between business leaders and employees.
When people know you always act with integrity, they’re more likely to trust your judgment, to enter into authentic relationship with you, do business with you or recommend you to others. Moreover, committing to prioritizing your own integrity leads to alignment within yourself, which makes navigating life’s challenges easier and less likely to cause upheaval.
Living with integrity is the process of establishing congruency between your inner and outer life. You move toward that state by bringing awareness to your thoughts words and actions and by being willing to always ask yourself the following questions:
Questions to Ask
Do I say what I mean and mean what I say?
Or do I say what I think others want to hear?
Do I speak well of others in their absence? Or do I use words to tear others down in their absence?
Do I engage in gossip? Or do I refrain from it?
Do I keep confidences sacred? Or do I tell “just one person” even when asked to keep something confidential?
Do I take responsibility for my words and actions? Or do I blame others for my words and actions?
Do I put boundaries on myself based on my skills, capacity and capabilities? Or do I over-commit even when I know I’m unlikely to succeed?
Do I prioritize taking actions that meet my own needs? Or do I look to others to meet all my needs?
Do I honor my commitments to myself and others? Or do I let myself off the hook when things become inconvenient or difficult?
Am I accountable for creating the outcomes in my life, even when they’re not what I’d like? Or do I put the blame on circumstance and other people?
Do I strive to hold myself to the same standards I hold others to? Or do I have a lower standard for myself?
Living or Living Well
In his book, Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot, Vice Admiral James Stockdale, writes:
“Integrity is a powerful word that derives from a specific concept. It describes a person who is integrated, blended into a whole, as opposed to a person of many parts, many faces, many disconnects.”
He continues by saying: “The word relates to the ancients’ distinction between living and living well. Contrary to popular thought, a person of integrity is typically easygoing with a sense of humor. He knows himself, reflects a definite and thoughtful set of preferences and aspirations, and is thus reliable. Knowing he is whole, he is not preoccupied with riding the crest of continual anxiety but is free to ride the crest of delight with life!”
Committing to living a life of integrity is a high but worthy human pursuit, requiring reflection, self-evaluation and continuous effort. However, for all its effort, living with integrity is also liberating. It allows you to lay your head down every night with a personal sense of peace and to experience, as Admiral Stockdale says, the difference between merely living and living well.
Monica Ricci spent 20 years as an organizing and productivity consultant, speaker and trainer. Today she coaches busy professionals and business teams, to create the life and business they desire and deserve. Monica enjoys travel, baseball, cycling, strength training and high quality butter.