Integrity: Being Whole In A World Of Disparities

How many times have you been trusted with money? A secret? A sensitive information? A difficult task? How many times have you made a decision based solely on your values and principles? If you cannot recall then maybe it’s time to think if your friends really trust you and if you have been really living out  your convictions. Start by reading this article.

If you were a soldier, would you go to a battlefield without a weapon? “Certainly not!” would be the obvious answer. But during WWII an ordinary private first class soldier who claimed an extraordinary calling to save lives, with an extraordinary principle not to kill even when it means saving his life and an extraordinary will not to bear arms even in the battlefield went to war  and saved seventy one lives as a medic without firing a single shot. Pfc. Desmond T. Doss stuck himself to “his own kind of gun.” It is not a story of bravery so much as it is a demonstration of integrity.

It takes a man of high emotional intelligence to act on what others may see as a pretty much absurd conviction. Without integrity which is one of the competencies of emotional intelligence (EI),  he will not have the courage to act on what he believed in even in the face of his enemies and of the volley of bullets and bombs.

What is integrity?  Let’s start with its simplest definition from the dictionary:

1.Strict adherence to strong moral principles, reflected in transparent honesty and complete harmony in what one thinks, says, and does.

2.The state of being whole and undivided.

Whether this refers to a character of a person or to a material it pictures out wholeness, consistency and trustworthiness. It’s like trusting a friend to keep your secrets in the same way you trust a chair to hold your weight.

Scholarly studies on integrity reveal that the solid foundation on which integrity is built on are the values and principles that one lives by.  But are these values arbitrary? Can one make his own values? Researches suggest that integrity does not only stem from individual preferences but also from universally accepted values and moral principles regardless of race, culture  or religion.

We may not be Bible enthusiasts or followers of Christ but here is this one noteworthy passage on integrity that Jesus taught his followers:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

In plain words what does this passage tell about a man without integrity?

  • He does not have his own standard of what’s right and what’s wrong.
  • He does what is most expedient rather than what is right.
  • He is easily swayed by the opinions of others because of  his weak capacity to think independently.
  • He contents himself with how things are usually done rather than challenge the way things are done if they go against his accepted values.

And what does it imply about a man whose character is rooted on a solid rock of good moral principles?

  • He acts ethically and is above reproach.
  • He does what’s right, even if it’s not personally rewarding.
  • He builds trust through their reliability and authenticity.
  • He admits his own mistakes and confronts unethical actions in others.
  • He maintains an authentic openness with others about his values, beliefs, feelings, and actions.
  • He takes tough, principled stands even if they are unpopular.
  • He keeps his word, commitments and promises.
  • He is honest and gives true, accurate information.
  • He treats all people fairly, no matter their place in the organisation.

You don’t need a battlefield to test how rooted you are to your principles. Everyday can bring in a challenge which will test your integrity —  from the simplest household task to a major decision in your workplace.

Studies on emotional intelligence indicate that the behavioural manifestation of integrity is driven by one’s willingness to grow on them by acting on them. If you have already that willingness to flourish into a person of integrity then the next step is for you to act on it. Here are developmental tips to get you started:

  • Intentionally take time to know your values and the principles you feel most strongly about.
  • Explore whether your behaviour is consistent with your values.
  • Write them down and keep them in a visible place (calendar, desk).
  • Ask yourself what you need to do differently to live more genuinely and in integrity with your values and beliefs.
  • Figure out ways you can tell your truth.
  • Review your values often.

Having doubts if you can pass the first step? We can help you clear your mind on the matter and move you on to the next level. Contact us today.