How Do Integrity, Accountability, and Service Fit In? 3 Part Series
Part 1: Integrity
People lie for many reasons. Some think they are obligated to lie about their abilities in order to get ahead in this competitive world. Others try to cover up errors, or guilt with lies. Still others falsify reports to give the impression that they have done work they have not done. Then there are those who lie to damage another’s reputation, to avoid embarrassment, to justify previous lies, or to defraud people of their money.
A common justification for a lie is that it protects another person. Some consider this to be a white lie because they think it does not injure anyone. Do these so-called white lies really leave no effects?
White lies can set a pattern that can lead to a practice of lying that may involve more serious matters. Sissela Bok comments: “All lies defended as ‘white’ cannot be so easily dismissed. In the first place, the harmlessness of lies is notoriously disputable. What the liar perceives as harmless or even beneficial may not be so in the eyes of the deceived.”
One: Tell the truth in the moment. What’s really the thought you’re have right now?
Two: Give up certain “rights.”
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”—Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
These are the “rights” we have entitled ourselves to, such as: I won’t call you on your stuff, and you don’t call me on mine. It’s okay not to keep my word or follow through. No one will notice.
What’s wrong with this picture?
It’s not honoring the value INTEGRITY.
Recall that a person of integrity means blamelessness, soundness in moral principles, uprightness, honesty, state of being whole, and entire.
The instant you don’t tell the truth, you have eroded your self-credibility. Annoying self-doubts begin to creep in and you start to wonder: if you don’t keep your word in the “small” things, how will you ever keep it when it really counts?
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte 1 is reputed to have said:
“The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.”
For the value INTEGRITY to be reciprocally honored, you need to be entirely responsible for your speaking, clarity, and being heard. When listening, your role is to give your complete attention, which means you do not “check out” as you listen.
Like a compass, our heart needs to be calibrated with sound values if it is to serve us well. There is a point on the compass called “true north.” When we’re off-course by 2°, then life might begin to look like a series of lies, upsets, explanations, being righteous in our opinions, dominating others, unsuccessful relationships, financial worries, and chronic illness. Merely having a compass does not help unless a navigator knows what his position is in relation to his destination.
Tell the truth in the moment. “Do the right thing.”
This calibrating of yourself gets you back on course, allows for completion of what was started, and makes possible the beginning of complete health.
While these statements may seem simplistic, and obvious to the casual observer, as far as I can tell, it is the most difficult state even for the most articulate, skilled leader to achieve, and sustain. It requires the willingness to be comfortable with the discomfort of confronting the status quo. It requires the courage to create powerful partnerships sustained through consistent, authentic discourse, clarity of purpose and the tenacity to be complete in all things. Your conscience is like that a compass. If properly trained, it will point “north”, and help you to make wise decisions.