Is Your Integrity an Ideal?

“You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running within you.” ~ Rwandan Proverb

Have you ever found yourself realizing that the more you think, read and talk about a subject, the more you want to be or align with it? Over the past few years, I’ve noticed this growing relationship between me and the topic of integrity. And I like what is evolving.

I am going to share a couple of thoughts about integrity, referencing the human male. The message, however, is equally applicable to the fairer gender.

The root word of “integrity” is “integer.” And integer is defined as a whole number, or a complete unit. A fraction is not an integer. A percentage of something less than 100% in not an integer. Ergo, there is no such thing as diminished integrity. It is a pass or fail test. Anything less than complete integrity is not integrity.

Let us take someone I know as an example. He thinks he is an upstanding person. However, he likes to fabricate stories about himself. Quite often, they are untruths, told to impress others. His problem is that he cannot remember who he had told what. In your sphere, how many men do you know who act like chameleons; they are a different guy with you, a different guy at home, a different guy at work, a different guy when traveling? Instead of being who he is, authentically, he lives as multiple selves. William James, a philosopher and psychologist, said that men have “as many different social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares.”

When a great man falls from grace, we often wonder how he could have messed up so badly. The truth is, he didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit a huge mistake. It more likely started with a little twist here, a bit of lying there. From there he just kept sliding down the slippery slope of compromise. But if you don’t compromise on the little things, you won’t on the bigger things.

So we can ask, is it actually possible to live one’s life with integrity? We all have weaknesses to work on, parts of our personality that can be strengthened, leaks that can be patched. An advocate for always being at choice, I believe for those who truly desire it, integrity is attainable. It is an ongoing challenge but it can be achieved. It’s interesting that of the few that you and I have known with complete integrity, not one of them has probably had to tell us so. Integrity is self-evident.

If you want to inspire your growth in and with integrity, reflect on these three actions:

  • What purpose would you have your life lead toward that you are willing to practice every day, perhaps for a lifetime, to be prepared for that chance event that may provide the ultimate test of your integrity?
  • What specific attitudes, habits and behaviors must you practice consistently to become the person of integrity you aspire to be?
  • Integrity is the glue that binds your virtues. What are your other core values? Why these? Are you being them, consistently?

14 thoughts on “Is Your Integrity an Ideal?

  1. I like the integrity is the glue bit. I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Catherine of Sienna (“Dialogues”) where she speaks of the “ground of humility” out of which grow all the virtues. (You have them all or none, she says!) It makes a lot of sense to me, in this context, that integrity should be the one that binds.

    • The idea of integrity being the glue is perhaps the best way to view this concept… It is the one thing that can bind the good things this amazing (and frustrating) life can bring our way.

      • Stability, consistency, integrity, faith, confidence… I see them as not mutually exclusive. I also accept them and other qualities as interchangeable cohesions. Glad someone else acknowledges life as both amazing and frustrating.

    • As with pillars, there are principles that can and do stand on their own. Some might argue they need not be bound. I appreciate tapestry and recognize the need for thread to keep the picture/experience woven. And I like a good challenge, even when it’s a lone defense of my integrity. Must read “Dialogues.”

      • You might have to “sift” the Dialogues – depending on your point of view. But in my opinion, Catherine’s psychological viewpoints mark her as an insightful psychologist before the term was born!

  2. Integrity is a challenging journey that all start, but most take detours – hoping to reconnect further down. Problem is, they can’t find their way back.

    You’re right – no need to beat your breast about integrity – it’ll be self-evident

  3. When our thoughts, words, and deeds are not in harmony, we know it. We feel splintered, fragmented and incomplete.

    When each aspect of our being flows easily to all others, that integrity creates happiness, harmony, and self confidence because we know who we are without using an external reference point.

    Integrity => Soundness => Completeness => Wholeness => Happiness

    • In part, this is why I love the concept of “core” being. We can choose to align with and be our authentic self or we can be and do as others wish and expect. I like your illustrative progression, Nancy. 🙂

  4. Integrity really is so important. And I have noticed in my life, you tend to replicate the behavior of those you are around, even if you don’t mean to. Surrounding yourself with people of integrity in your inner circle is something I feel (IMHO) everyone should do. I enjoyed this post, Eric. Cheers.

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