It’s my believe that you can only live a life of purpose when your life is based on proper Values. This makes reflecting on your Values a great exercise. It increases your awareness and will show you areas for improvement. Creating a habit of reflecting on your Values will help you change your life (and that of others!) for the better.
Here’s my reflection on Integrity, a value that, in my opinion, unfortunately is not taken to heart too often.
Honesty is conforming your words to your actions. Integrity goes beyond honesty. It is conforming your actions to your words. Example: beating someone up and telling you did is honest, however it has got nothing to do with Integrity.
Integrity is to think, speak and act in harmony with your own Values. It’s about truthfulness, accuracy and consistency of your actions.
Integrity can stand in opposition of hypocrisy, which is the practice of engaging in the same behaviour or activity for which you criticize another.
It’s the failure to follow your own expressed Values and principles.
An example of being a hypocrite myself is the following. I criticized some friends of mine as they did not (or at least were considering not to) pay taxes over income they made from renting out their apartment through AirBnB. This was at the time that public opinion (and theirs) criticized the behaviour of “the Greeks” not paying their income taxes. I labelled their behaviour as hypocrite.
In order not to be a hypocrite myself I must confess right now that I am behind with paying a certain tax for driving my car in Spain. My excuse is that I am not completely sure what the tax is about and that the administration has never notified me and probably never will. Nor have they been co-operative when I looking into this matter.
I guess this confession changes me from being a hypocrite to someone who is honest, however it still is not a display of Integrity. In order for that to happen I should find out how to pay the tax and do so. I suppose writing this down will set the wheel of reflection in motion. Let’s see whether the tax will finally be paid…
For me living up to my own Integrity can be quite challenging. It becomes even more challenging when your environment crosses the line now and then (or often). If you wish you could check your own Integrity by reflecting on questions such as:
I believe that it can be quite tempting at times not to act with Integrity. Especially if you think no one will ever find out and / or it seems that the rest of the world is doing it as well. So why bother?
Well probably the most important reason is that acting with Integrity will make you feel good about yourself. Next to that it builds Trust.
Most people see Integrity as an aspiration, not as a necessity. But do understand there will be no Trust in any relationship without Integrity. Values are based on natural laws and if we take nature as an example you can see that there exist no shortcuts in nature. You reap what you sow, always. There is no exception to that. You might cheat on a system but never on a natural law. To give you an example, you probably have passed examinations in school by studying vigorously the last few days for the exam. You might have passed the examination, however if you have not practiced the subject ever since you probably have forgotten it all. In order to obtain mastery in any field you need to abide to the natural laws that are at force.
“Repetition is the mother of all skills”
Hence if you want to live the Value of Integrity you will have to apply it consistently.
I believe Integrity, Honesty and Trust are all closely related and are cornerstones to become truly effective.
Another example I try to reflect upon to understand the concept of Integrity and Trust better is that if you gossip about other people to someone, this person you are speaking to will probably not trust you. Why? Because this person will expect that you will probably gossip about him to others as well. Renowned author Steven Covey who wrote “The seven habits of highly effective people” calls this “Being loyal to those who are not present”.
Become truly effective by displaying Integrity. Do what you promised, in the way you promised and at the time you promised to do so. If you are not able to keep your word, communicate this immediately, don’t wait until it’s too late for the other to take appropriate action. Furthermore, if you create a problem for the other, because you are not keeping your word, do all you can to minimize the impact for the other. Don’t underestimate the power of a high level of trust / integrity as this can bring about synergistic results.
Watch out for opportunism as a single lie destroys a whole reputation of Integrity and hence your personal effectiveness as you will at best achieve an outcome of defence.
Any social system that is not build on proper Values including Integrity and Trust cannot survive for long or are at least very unpleasant environments to be in. A lack of proper Values leads to weak social systems.
Now, imagine the opposite. Imagine a world in which you could blindly Trust yourself and others to act with Integrity. A society in which a high level of Trust is present. What a difference it would make! Imagine:
Based on the above I find Integrity a valuable Value to hold high and reflect upon frequently.
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