“Integrity is the essence of everything successful.”
~ Richard Buckminster Fuller
As a child I rarely thought about integrity. I pretty much lived it. Like lots of kids, I was too busy exploring life to intentionally focus on ethical principles and behavior. The notion of being truthful was something my mother taught us. It seemed natural, the right ‘thing’ to do, even as I gradually noticed others around me taking less than honest actions.
But it was in the business world where I observed blatant dishonesty, largely in support of fulfilling shareholder expectations. Widespread questionable activity smacked in the face of what I knew, was counter to my values. On more than one occasion my career growth was limited because I openly challenged unethical decisions.
Ultimately, I made peace with myself, left the very comfortable corporate cocoon and chose to live life with integrity. It remains one of my more prideful actions.
So I’ll ask, When was the last time you reflected on what’s truly important to you? Are you living with integrity, true to your core values? Do you even know what your core values are?
Each of us lives in a busy world. We strive to balance family matters, finances, our health, personal and professional relationships, and emotional challenges. Sound familiar?
So let’s pause for a moment… Ask yourself what you most value in life? Here are two quick ways to discover this: Pay attention to the words you use to describe your life, and the people you choose to share time with and; Acknowledge your emotional actions and responses to the actions, attitudes and behaviors of others. Write down what you believe you value. Then look at what’s presently in your life. Do you live according to those values or are you living someone else’s beliefs?
Stand your ground. Some times this is what it takes as you pursue your dreams. To stay in integrity while following your passions, you have to make choices along the way. Some of them were, and others might be, tough.
They may be instances when friends and colleagues, maybe even family, will have difficulty supporting your decisions. Yet this is exactly the moment in which you get to be clear about what living in integrity means for you. And you’ll shine!
There are plenty of ways to demonstrate being “in” integrity. Here are three simple ones:
Be willing to question what you do and how you do it.
- Look for and find the best in others.
- Understand that being “in” integrity isn’t the same for everyone.
The Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, described how imposed Western ‘values’ led to social and psychological disorientation of traditional African society. In his book, Things Fell Apart (1959), he said, “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”
You only have this one, physical life. And it’s short! When you choose to honor your core values you strengthen your mind, body and spirit. If you have values that you have kept hidden to win the approval of others, then do you think it’s time to reassess you life?
What are you choosing? Why?