Integrity: Maintenance Required

The word “integrity” generates inspiration. Maybe it was the legendary story of “George Washington and the Cherry Tree” or Jimmy Stewart’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”, but somewhere this word resonated with your soul. This explains why it’s a frequent flyer on core value charts for both people and businesses. Whether your business “lists it” as a value or just “lives it” as a principle, a commitment to integrity should certainly be a standard that everyone is striving for.

Unfortunately, a commitment to integrity is not static. By nature, it has to be maintained and developed or it will tend to wane. I remember when I learned this for the first time as a valet driver at a large hotel in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. I really enjoyed the job (and the cars) and depending on what events were going on in the city, I could make a decent amount of money from tips. This money was a big source that God used to provide for my college bills, so naturally, I was counting every penny that came in. Each night after work, we were required to report our tips in the clock-out computer for tax purposes. I can remember one night catching myself being dishonest about my tips and it shocked me. I knew I valued integrity, but how were my actions becoming separated from my values? Now, It is clear to me that I had not maintained my commitment to integrity while increasing my commitment to profitability.

By default, we devote our energies toward what we are committed to most. If we are not intentionally developing our commitment to integrity, it will cease to function effectively as a value. Like a kayaker paddling upstream, neglecting forward motion can only result in moving backward. When integrity starts to drift down-current, it leads to a dangerous imbalance in values. If neglected long enough, it will result in failure. Conversely, when integrity is prioritized and maintained, it facilitates the opportunity for honorable success.

So how can we maintain our commitment to integrity? First, think about the benefits that integrity brings to our life, home, or business. Consider what would be different or would be at risk if it was absent in our dealings. Regular dedicated thinking on the value of integrity will develop its influence and keep it from being neglected. Second, talk about its importance with others. When we see it — praise it. Take every opportunity to encourage people to embrace it. When we are willing to become identified with integrity, it will bring a helpful accountability in maintaining our commitment to it. To sum it all up, we can’t stop paddling.

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