Change is natural. We constantly change and even when we try to stay the same, the world around us changes.
There is so much advice out there to be agile and flexible to manage change. The risk sometimes comes when you become too flexible and compromise on certain traits that shouldn't be comprised.
One such trait is INTEGRITY.
You can find this characteristic on most qualities-of-successful-people lists, yet, it's difficult for people to describe how someone can exude this quality.
Before we dive into the benefits of INTEGRITY, let's define it.
INTEGRITY comes from the Latin word "integer" meaning whole and complete. You are whole when your beliefs, values, principles, words, actions, expectations and reactions are consistent. Simply put:
- The rules that govern your life are aligned with your values and principles.
- The words that speak matches what you believe.
- The actions that you take mirrors what you say and think.
- Your reactions match your expectations.
What makes INTEGRITY valuable is that, although all agree it's a good trait, it's uncommon. A potential reason for that is because it's easy to believe having INTEGRITY will hold you back in life. It's easy to see this trait as a burden rather than an advantage.
This viewpoint makes senses. There are numerous examples that show people benefiting from a lack of INTEGRITY:
- Colleagues who lie and get promoted
- Business men who cheat and make millions
- Athletes who use drugs and win 1st
- Politicians who break their promises after being elected
Cutting corners and acting inconsistently with your beliefs is especially tempting when things change quickly and you're fighting hard just to keep up.
The issue with this perspective is that it's skewed. People only see the positives of not having INTEGRITY while being blind to the consequences and costs.
Here are some negatives to leading a life without INTEGRITY:
- You live in constant fear of being found out
- You are stressed in having to keep all your stories straight
- You lose sleep over the people you've hurt
- You get punished if people do find out - jail, unemployment, lost relationships/reputation, etc.
When you weigh the costs and benefits, living with INTEGRITY is typically the better option. You reduce the stress of covering who you are. Living with INTEGRITY frees up your mind to think of ways to grow as opposed to expending mental energy to watching your back or keep track of your lies.
Having INTEGRITY also boosts your reputation. When people trust you, doors will open for you professionally and personally. By choosing to have INTEGRITY, you not only open up more possibilities but makes it easier to make decisions about different paths. When you know who you are and you value INTEGRITY, you pick the option that best aligns with the person you want to be.
For those of you who already have INTEGRITY, congratulations and stay strong. For those of you who are not sure if you have it, know that INTEGRITY can be learned and built.
To build INTEGRITY:
Clearly Define Yourself
To know whether you are being consistent, you first need to be clear about your values, beliefs, and principles. People around you will try to sway you to take on their value and belief systems but only YOU can decide the ones that best fit you. To have INTEGRITY doesn't mean you need to do what society deems as "good", you just have to live according to how you want to live and align everything about you to that core.
Keep Your Promises
One strong sign of INTEGRITY is keeping your word. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you don't want to do it, say you don't want to do it and don't do it. Sounds simple and the truth is, it is simple.
Note: Simple does not mean easy.
Take It Easy on Yourself
There will be times when it is tough to make the right decision and you end up making the wrong decision. That's ok, it happens. Get back on track and learn from that experience to prevent it in the future. What you don't want to do is give up on having INTEGRITY.
INTEGRITY, in both the long and short run, will make your life easier. Give it a try and see for yourself.
Photo by Allen Allen
Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.