Integrity-1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. 2. is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, and morals.
There is an old story of a frog and a scorpion sitting at the edge of a river. The scorpion asks the frog if he will carry him on his back across the river. The frog replies, “If I take you across the river, you have to promise not to sting me, if you do, I will be unable to swim and we will both drown.” “I wouldn’t do that, I don’t want to die.” replies the scorpion. As the frog begins swimming across the river, with the scorpion on his back, the scorpion stings the frog. “How could you?” asked the frog, “Now we will both die.” “Im sorry” said the scorpion “but, it is simply in my nature”.
We can usually tell what someone is all about based off of their: thoughts, words, and actions. Most people do not have a clear and consistent moral code that dictates their lives, without commitment to some sort of values we have no consistency: there is simply nothing that demonstrates trustworthiness in people without a moral code.
When our thoughts, words, and actions are in alignment we demonstrate consistency and predictability, this is what causes people to trust you, but before you get too excited, remember our friend the scorpion; if you go around stinging everyone, then sure people will trust you, but they are going to trust you to sting them too.
People without integrity (without alignment of thoughts, words, and actions), are very unpredictable and contradictions in our behavior cause people to avoid us- and ultimately not to trust us. If someone tells you they often run late, and they are late to a meeting, then we accept it, because after all, they prepared us for this fact; however, if they told us how punctual they are, and then show up 30 minutes late we will view the occurrence very differently. We will often tolerate a bad habit much more if a person acknowledges they have an issue up front, because it creates alignment of their thoughts, words, and actions. Most of the time though, we will not tolerate being misled or lied to.
People of integrity live their lives based off of a strict foundation of morals and values that are centered around their strongest priorities and beliefs. The stronger someone is in their beliefs of right and wrong, and the more aware they are of their priorities, the more honest and integrous they will be. For example, if we have a friend who continuously expresses love for family and states that family is above everything, they spend time with their family, and do everything they can for them, we will believe that they place their family above all. Their belief in the importance of family will dictate many of their behaviors and we will trust that whatever decisions they make will reflect that family is number one. Now if this same person suddenly became obsessed with an inheritance of a lost loved one and was willing to severe ties with their family to get the money, we would probably begin to question their honesty and their motives for being so family oriented in the first place. Simply put, when our thoughts, words, and actions are in alignment people trust us, but if anything is out of place people will doubt and question our intentions.
Being consistent means people can trust you, and it is highly important to be careful with the words you speak: if you say something make sure you back it up with actions. Remember the childhood story of the boy who cried wolf? The boy is a clear example of someone lacking integrity, he laughs at others expense as he demonstrates he can’t be trusted, and then when he really needs help, he gets eaten up while the others turn their backs on him.
Whether people agree with you or not on all of your priorities, values, and beliefs isn’t relevant here. Not everyone will agree with you, not everyone will share your passions and convictions, but people WILL respect you if you are integrous and demonstrate consistency in your thoughts, words, and actions. We trust people who have integrity, because integrity is the definition of honesty. So trust people for their words and actions, if they are in alignment we can usually trust what they say. If someone is not in alignment then you better steer clear, because even they don’t know what they want. Don’t just pay attention to the words someone speaks, but also watch their actions, because if the two aren’t aligned they are either lying, out of control, or confused.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to learn more about integrity, you can read more about integrity here in another post.