Dictionary.com defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. A pretty thorough yet straightforward definition.
Another definition of integrity is “a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition,” as in the integrity of a ship’s hull. However, this definition has some relevance to the type of moral integrity that this article discusses. Think about it. Our integrity must be sound, as in, based on valid reasoning. Our integrity must not become impaired by difficult circumstances, outside pressure, or by the use of drink or drugs. To be in perfect condition, our integrity would have to be without reproach – and will need to be something that others can count on to be true in any situation. That’s the kind of integrity that gains a good reputation.
Here are six tips to help you live a life of integrity.
1. Define Your Values
It is essential to determine your values so that you know where you stand on important topics. Many people rely on the teachings of their religion of choice, while some rely on what they consider to be instinctual values, as in an innate ability to understand right and wrong. This method inevitably leads to discussions about why we have an innate understanding of right and wrong if there is no God, but that is a long discussion for another day.
We at Vision to Purpose are Christians, and we base our values on Biblical Scripture and the life of Jesus. We value honesty, truth, compassion, grace, forgiveness, standing up for injustices, the sanctity of life, and authenticity, to name a few. Not surprisingly, some of those qualities are detailed in points two through six.
Living your life with integrity means to live following your set of beliefs, even when doing so makes your life more difficult.
2. Value Honesty
Integrity means nothing when trust has been lost. There is no quicker way to lose someone’s faith in you than to be caught being dishonest. This is why we should greatly value honesty. Yes, sometimes the truth hurts, but never more so than a lie eventually being found out.
When you lie, and the truth eventually comes out (and it always comes out in the end), you have not only the truth to recon with, but also your dishonesty. It’s best to be straightforward and honest. Trust me. People respect honesty and usually respond better to it than you expect. A bonus is that you don’t have any lies to keep track of when you’re honest. The ONLY time I condone lying is when planning a super awesome surprise for someone. Did I mention I love surprises?
3. Be Authentic
Authenticity goes hand in hand with honesty. But where honesty deals with your interactions with others, authenticity deals with your interactions with yourself. Being authentic involves being honest with and true to yourself. We’ve all met fake and insincere people. Have you ever thought to yourself, “man, that’s the type of person I trust”? I would imagine not.
Authenticity means a happy marriage between our inner values and our actions, expressed through our incredibly unique personality. Be yourself and be true to who you are.
4. Speak Out for injustice.
What good is a set of values if you do nothing with them? Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Ugh. Talk about a gut punch. I know that we’ve all been in a situation when we’ve thought about standing up for something but decided to let others take the heat for it. This past year has been one challenge to my values after another, and I’ve stopped hoping for the best while letting others stand up for my values because I didn’t want to put myself at risk.
I’ve attended rallies, written to my government officials, participated in civil disobedience, voted, spoken up in tense situations, called out untruths, educated others on their constitutional rights, and started exercising more of my constitutional rights. While I’m not a big strong man and can’t physically dominate my opposition, I do have a voice, a vote, money to spend, and a brain with which to think. Having integrity makes it our responsibility to speak out for injustice.
5. Do Your Best Work
Having integrity means doing your best work. It means not cutting corners when no one is looking. Integrity while working also means taking ownership and responsibility for your mistakes. If you have a reputation for being a worker with integrity, it generally means that you will do the job as asked and do it to the best of your ability. Also, you’ll likely ask for help when you don’t know what you’re doing so that you can continue to learn and grow in your skillset.
6. Seek Truth
In today’s world, truth is harder and harder to come by, as every platform has an agenda. It is our responsibility to actively seek the truth. We should always try to get to the bottom of things and get as close to the truth as possible. I also believe that God put an incredible intuition in us, and the more that we seek the truth, the more that we can recognize or feel when we are facing untruths.
I find the truth so refreshing because it is generally so clear-cut and straightforward. Truth is no-nonsense. Truth is also what runs through the current of all the other points I made above. Integrity is merely turning the truth into actions.
Living with Integrity
Living with integrity means that we hold our values so dear that we can’t help but live them out in our everyday interactions. We act with integrity, even when it puts us at risk or makes our current situation more difficult. Integrity is putting our values into action.
About the Author
Melanie Lemus is the Communications Specialist for Vision to Purpose providing self-help, business, and career-focused topics. She lives in Virginia with her wonderful husband and witty daughter. Melanie loves her freedom – in Christ and America. She’s passionate about natural health and homeopathy, and she’s always down to take a hike through the mountains.
About Vision to Purpose
Vision to Purpose is an organization dedicated to helping individuals and businesses succeed by offering tailored career, life, and business solutions.