I’m not sure there is any one lesson that my parents stressed more than the importance of integrity when I was growing up. True to the lesson, my father did more than preach integrity, he modeled integrity. Over the course of my career I have realized how few people really understand what integrity is (hint, it’s not simply honesty) and how even fewer people are fortunate enough to been given such a noble example.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey defines integrity as follows:
Honesty is telling the truth–in other words, conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words–in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. This requires an integrated character, a oneness, primarily with self but also with life” (The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, pp. 195—196).
Integrity goes beyond honesty. It speaks to a person’s character and their consistency. The word integrity is derived from the Latin word integer, which is defined as whole, complete.
Integrity speaks to the entire character of the person. Just as we might say that a building’s integrity has been compromised if there is an inconsistency detected in its structure, so too, a person’s integrity is compromised if their life is not consistent. A person of integrity acts according to their faith, values, beliefs, and principles. They say what they mean and do what they say.
Are you a person of integrity? Are you consistent in your words and actions? Do you act in accordance with your beliefs? Do you follow through on what you say you will do?