Integrity is one of those words that many, or most, people use, but they don’t fully understand its meaning or impact on others. Yes, it is a word that many groups, companies, and individuals use to make it sound like they stand for the right things, but their aspirations often do not align with their actions. Similar words get spoken but often don’t measure up as well, such as quality, truth, and best.
Scanning the definitions of integrity on my Dictionary app on my phone, I pick up the following words and phrases to describe integrity: “Adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, honesty, whole, entire, undiminished, unimpaired, and perfect condition.” Again, these words are easy to say and espouse to be our goals, missions, and values; however, they are not easy to implement in practice.
The truth is, integrity is one of those things that we know when we see it, but we have a hard time explaining it and putting it into words for people to understand. Yes, your brain knows that you feel a certain way even though you can’t tell others why. The same could be said for love. You can tell me you love your spouse, but when I ask you to tell me why you struggle to come up with words because it is a feeling.
And so, when it comes to integrity, it is something that we should all aspire to; however, it is difficult to explain to someone who may not be familiar with it. Some people can betray our feelings, but for the most part, we know what it feels like to be around people who possess integrity. We also know when we experience the opposite.
The challenge we all must accept is that like many other worthwhile undertakings, becoming a person of integrity takes consistent effort over a long period. You may long to lose twenty pounds or to double your revenue or income but to do either or both; you must commit to making daily changes and improvements to achieve that goal over a while. If you’re trying to lose those 20 pounds, you’re not going to get up tomorrow and run a marathon to get a good start. You’re going to have to plan how to start and build up over time your exercise routine, not to mention working on your diet and sleep rituals.
Can the same be accomplished with integrity? Of course, it can. Here are three tips to get you started. However, I bet once you consider these three, you can come up with several others on your own that will be just as, if not more, effective. I invite you to share those with me in the comments so I can share them with others.
First, be a person of your word. Yes, of course, this means telling the truth, but it also means being a person of your word. If you say you are going to do something, do it and whenever possible, do it before or better than you promised to do it. In other words, don’t just be honest, be reliable. When people know they can count on you, you will not only earn their trust. You will earn their loyalty. That is much more valuable.
Next, make sure you have boundaries set up to say yes to what matters and no to what doesn’t. Pro tip: there are only a handful of things you need to say “yes” to and innumerable things you need to say “no” to. In fact, the more you say no, the better you can do the things that you should be saying yes to. You may take some time to reflect and ponder how you approach boundaries, but the more focused you can get on who and what your priorities should be, the better you can show up for all these people and things.
Finally, although integrity may imply perfection, embrace that no one is perfect, and everyone needs to ask for grace and forgiveness, especially from yourself. Hear well that I am not encouraging you not to push yourself to become more and better than you are now but don’t fear failure, whether it be with a goal or a relationship. Both of those things can and will be significantly improved as you learn to give and ask for forgiveness. Use failure as an opportunity for growth rather than as a deterrent to progress.
There is a lot of need in our world today. Of course, there are always tragedies, misfortunes, and poverty that needs to be addressed and cared for. However, I would argue that one of the greatest needs that we have is to find people who live with and aspire to greater levels of integrity.
I will close with one final mic-dropping thought and definition of integrity that I believe is a beautiful conclusion, in the words of Brene Brown. “Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values, rather than simply professing them.”
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