Firm adherence to a code of values- especially moral or artistic- is something I take great pride in for how I lead my life. Much like trust, integrity represents an ability earned through consistent, daily action. You may think you can proclaim that you have integrity, but I believe it’s something that’s shown through how you carry yourself in the face of adversity or potential danger. We’ve seen many cases over the past decade of leaders and CEO’s of big business who look the other way at shaky practices and shortcuts, only to realize that in the end- a lack of integrity cost them not only their job but the faith and trust of public opinion.
Integrity to me can be as simple as when I make a commitment to be at a certain place by a certain time, I plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early. This aspect can drive my wife crazy, yet I feel it’s important to show other people why I consider their time valuable. Another commitment my wife and I have made with our children has been the aspect of working with the truth at hand. Too many times parents worry about what their children are doing wrong- and I believe when it comes to the difficult subject matters in their pressure filled world, if they don’t feel like they can approach you honestly, they’ll tell their friends or strangers and leave you in the cold.
Trust me, you want open communication between parents and children- and putting out at all times the aspect that they will not be punished for telling the truth can help to get better conversations going with informed choice making for their future. How you handle issues like drug use, drinking, relationships, curvews, jobs, academics, etc. shapes their moral compass as adults.
If you put your stance on a particular issue out on the table, the majority of people will respect that stance and not try to force you to do anything you don’t want to do. In my years working with bands as their promotion/ publicity guy, there would be raging parties with alcohol and drugs abound. Every time someone would ask if I wanted to participate, I said “no thank you” and that would be the end of the issue. As long as their fun didn’t interfere with my safety, what they wanted to do was their own decision and I was strong enough to handle it.
In my pre-teen years I had a couple of friends who went shopping with me one time at a local department store. Unbeknownst to me, they decided to participate in a five finger discount with a few music selections as I was in line purchasing some candy. When security stopped the three of us at the door, they brought us up into their lounge and showed my friends the tapes that caught them red-handed. The most embarassing moment would be going back into the main part of the mall to find my parents with these security guards who had to explain what happened. It was a silent ride home- so even before the questioning and the grounding that occurred, I stated that I had no idea they were going to do this in public and that immediately I would drop them as friends.
I deal with shoplifting from my daughters- they don’t do it at stores, they just lift items from my wife and each other when they feel like they aren’t getting enough attention or want to send out a punishment. I remind them of my childhood story and make them think about looking at their character to see if they want a reputation as being a thief or if they want to attain a better life through asking, sharing and caring for others as well as themselves.
Never compromise your values for the sake of popularity. I’d rather have a few friends and family members who respect me for who I am and what I represent than hundreds of thousands who would like to manipulate my every choice and move as if I was a puppet to suit their whims and fancies. When it comes to tough choices, take a couple of steps back to plan and think before acting. Follow through on your promises and the integrity meter grows. Study others who you hold in high regard and see what makes them strong, worthwhile and upstanding humans.
It’s why biographies and memoirs are on my weekly reading agenda- who better to learn from then those who’ve done what you desire before you as well as gaining insight for those in your own generation.