“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
– C.S. Lewis
And, in fact, I might say especially when no one is watching.
I’ve written on many topics so far, and I would struggle to organize them by rank if ever I should have to. All of these things: determination, acceptance, passion – they are all extremely valuable. Indeed, they are all inter-connected. Some of them wouldn’t be of much value without the others. Passion without acceptance will only guarantee heartbreak. Likewise, success will never be achieved without determination. Though it’s not the only such virtue, integrity is one that can stand on its own. A person with integrity is of incredible worth regardless.
To me, integrity is a person’s character stripped of all outside influence. Integrity is the degree to which you are honest, trustworthy, and driven when there is no incentive to be any of these things.
I imagine integrity as being the characteristic within you which causes others to trust you and depend on you. Trust is a very difficult thing to earn, and it is a very easy thing to lose. Relationships that are years in the making can be destroyed by one breach of trust. A person of high integrity is one that you can trust without failing.
Hopefully the value to yourself is apparent. If you demonstrate to others an incredible aptitude and an ability to work tirelessly at everything you attempt, you’ll certainly merit attention from others. If in time, however, you prove that you are impulsive and reckless or you fail consistently to deliver on your promises, it won’t be long before your name is of little value. In contrast, if you can consistently pick off as much as you can handle, drive forward with a resolved commitment, and deliver on your promises within your deadlines, it won’t be long before your opportunities multiply
As people, I believe we are drawn to those of high integrity as they make our lives simpler. Why bother with the names and numbers of a dozen different auto mechanics when you have one you can always depend on? Indeed, the more you hope to achieve in life, the more important your personal integrity becomes. A doctor, lawyer, or Chief of Police that cannot be trusted will find their careers cut very short. Most people are risk-averse. When applied to careers and personal growth, this can be unfortunate, but it’s simple prudence in others.
I guess what I’m driving at is this: if you hope to get anywhere in life and stay there, then you need to understand what integrity means and how to master it and demonstrate it to others. The world is full of people that can make any manner of claims. There’s no shortage of those that will swear up-and-down that they’re on the cusp of greatness, yet they never round that edge. Spend an afternoon in a loan office and you’ll hear endless promises of fame and fortune as return on investment. Few people, however, have the internal character to deliver on their commitments. Likewise, few people understand themselves well enough to keep from over-burdening themselves with guarantees they’ll never fulfill.
Thank you for your time.