Of all human qualities, I would argue that Integrity is the most important. Why? If people don’t trust you, it doesn’t matter how many great attributes you posses, they won’t respect you, nor will they follow you.
How about you? When people have been deceptive, misleading or have cheated or lied to you, do you still respect them?
You can build a relationship of 20 years and destroy it in 30 seconds by crossing the line and doing something that causes someone to question your integrity.
When people have given me reason to question their integrity, I can forgive them; I can even love them; but it’s painfully hard to ever trust them again.
Trust is one of those rare things that when it is lost, it’s almost impossible to regain.
If you want to achieve long-term success in your career, you must absolutely be a person of integrity. Sure, people can get to the top without integrity, but all we need to do is turn on the news or read our local paper to see they don’t stay at the top. Those people who lack integrity will eventually be exposed and when they are, their world will come tumbling down.
I listened to an interview with Dave Ramsey on the Success Magazine monthly CD. Dave talked about best selling author, Tom Stanley’s books, The Millionaire Next Door and the sequel, The Millionaire Mind. Stanley’s research demonstrates that first generation deca-millionaires (those with a minimum net worth of 10 million dollars) statistically had 38 behaviors or traits in common. The number one value was integrity. Their vendors, friends and even their fierce competitors commented that they had fanatical levels of integrity.
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible… If a man’s associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.”
Not only is personal integrity critical to achieving wealth, but it is also significant in building a strong self-image. After all, how can you feel good about yourself when you are doing things you shouldn’t be doing?
Integrity is equally important in our personal relationships because it is the foundation from which all great friendships and marriages are built. Nothing will destroy a friendship or a marriage faster than a lack of trust.
Not only do you want to be viewed as a person of integrity, but over time you want to be viewed as a person with unquestionable or as Tom Stanley says, “fanatical integrity”.
Unquestionable integrity means people who know you won’t ever question your integrity because you’ve never given them a reason to do so. This level of integrity is built over time by being authentic, forthright and always doing what’s right.
Let me encourage you to never, not even once, for any reason—do something that could cause people to question your integrity. No matter what it is, it isn’t worth it in the long-term. Few things spread faster than the fact that someone can’t be trusted. And besides, when you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.
“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” –W. Clement Stone