The Unexpected Impact of Integrity in Your Life
When you hear the word ‘integrity’, what thoughts spring up in your mind? What particular values do you recall? What images are conjured up? These are interesting questions because integrity is a word that’s replete with the resonance of old-fashioned virtues.
Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it’s about how we treat other people. – Dennis Prager
We tend to use the word as a positive attribute and a way of recognising the admirable qualities of honesty and trustworthiness. But integrity goes far beyond this cozy definition of an honest individual. And why is that important?
Because everything is connected.
It’s such a powerful concept that it’s worth pausing for a couple of moments to think about the implications.
Everything is connected.
It tells us that the way we do one thing is going to show up in every other area of our lives. Even if the connections aren’t obvious, they’re always there, exerting their influence and linking all the disparate and apparently unrelated areas of our lives. That’s why integrity is such a powerful concept.
With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will always do the right thing, so you will never have guilt. – Zig Ziglar
Once you embrace the concept of integrity and apply the principle to all aspects of your life, you’ll find that everything becomes much simpler. You don’t have to waste another ounce of energy pretending to be something that you are not. And that’s going to save you a great deal of mental, physical and emotional energy. You can be more open. You can clean up your behaviour. That can translate into saying what you mean. Or, if your thoughts aren’t helpful, you’ll appreciate that it’s better to practise the virtue of silence rather than to say something you don’t mean. Your aim is to bring your thoughts, your feelings, your words and your deeds into alignment. No more contradictions. No more lies. No more pretending.
It’s an extraordinarily powerful way to transform your life. You can start by freeing yourself from the old habit of trying to be all things to all people. You don’t have to wear the old, cracked, smiley mask that you applied to disguise what you were thinking and feeling. You can begin to act in accordance with your values rather than in response to your needs for acceptance. Popularity loses its appeal if it’s based on anything that isn’t real. We may live in a time of surprisingly shallow reflexes – an understandable response to the cult of celebrity – but we need to recognise that superficiality degrades the quality of life and discourages us from seeking a deeper view of how the world really works. Integrity brings our lives into focus. It encourages an essential review of our behaviour to make sure that everything we do is beneficial for our health, our success, our relationships and our wellbeing.
The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love and loyalty. – Zig Ziglar
The underlying principle is to make our lives easier, less stressful and much more enjoyable. We identify the contradictions and make a simple decision to eliminate them from our repertoire of responses. Life is largely made up of the habits that we deploy to get us through the day with as little effort as possible. By introducing integrity as a daily habit, a way of integrating all aspects of our life into a focused, cohesive set of behaviours, we take back control of destiny.
It’s a serious issue. Those contradictions inevitably show up in the more vulnerable areas of our lives. They show up in the hidden cracks and weaknesses of our foundations. They corrode the stability of our lives and can wreak unholy havoc upon our best-laid plans and endeavours. They show up without warning and they can derail relationships, thwart our best efforts and put the brakes on our progress even as we hit the gas pedal for maximum acceleration.
Because everything is connected.
So, this might be the perfect moment for you to take an inventory of the main areas of your life. Identify anything that might represent a contradiction or possible threat to any of your other activities. Clean up all areas of your life. Settle disputes. Make a pledge to renounce all gossip – both listening or repeating. Resolve to follow the principles of honesty, fairness and goodwill. Pick out any addictive behaviours and make a commitment to give them up. Right now. Develop an awareness of any thoughts, feelings or words that might contradict your life plan. Make a note of the principles that guide your life and put a copy on your computer screen. Keep a copy in your purse or wallet. Make sure that all your actions match up to your principles.
To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity. – Douglas Adams
Is virtue its own reward? Perhaps. But the greater reward is an integrated system of thought, word, deed and action that will focus on the attainment of your goals and dreams and aspirations. It’s a smoother, easier pathway. And one that is free from the self-destructive behaviours that can so easily disrupt and damage your ability to achieve whatever you set your heart on. Ultimately, this is why we are all our most challenging enemy. It’s time therefore to become your own truest friend.