It’s not hard to spot. We are surrounded by a media apparatus that lies to us 24/7. There seems to be no ethics, no morality, no integrity… in news media today.

This is probably a hallmark of why these things are so important.

First, there may be some confusion between the terms ethics, morals, and integrity. Most people look at these as standards of ‘correct’ behavior. This is probably why they get confused. Let’s chop it up real quick.

Integrity ≠ Morality and ethics.

Integrity is a purely positive proposition. It has nothing to do with good vs. bad. Think of the ‘integrity’ of wood. It just is. Think of the ‘integrity’ of gravity. It’s not good or bad. It just is.

Morality and ethics are normative concepts in that they deal with matters of good or bad, right vs. wrong. Morality refers to a society’s standards of right and wrong behavior for individuals and groups within that society, while ethics refers to the normative set of values that apply to all members of a group or organization. Thus, both morality and ethics relate to desirable vs. undesirable behavior.

Integrity = Internal reliability, wholeness.

An individual is whole and complete when their word is whole and complete, and their word is whole and complete when they honor their word. We can honor our word in one of two ways:

  1. By keeping our word, and on time.
  2. As soon as we know that we won’t keep our word, we inform all parties counting on us to keep our word and clean up any mess that we’ve caused in their lives.

When we do this, we are honoring our word despite having not kept it, and we have maintained our integrity.

Why so Serious?

If this matters to you, then you will think very carefully before giving your word to anyone or anything, and you will never give your word to two or more things that are mutually inconsistent. Most focus on the ‘keeping of the word.’ I think it’s far more important to ‘honor your word’ if you cannot. Maintaining the ‘integrity’ of your word is your bond.

Integrity is important to individuals, groups, organizations and society because it creates workability. Without integrity, the workability of any object, system, person, group or organization declines; and as workability declines, the opportunity for performance declines.

Want to create high performance teams? Integrity is a necessary requirement. it’s also the only way to really build trust anyway: Do what you say. Say what you mean.

It’s Really All About You

The foundation for being a person of integrity is giving your word to yourself (or declaring to yourself) the following:

  1. “Who I am is my word.”
  2. “I give my word to myself that I am a person of integrity.”

Internal consistency with outside action is where we’re going here. I want this for me. I think I do a pretty good job with most auto-pilot behaviors in my system… but I want to do better. I want to be a better human in this area.

When we’re not serious about this, then life is worse. Period. The core principle of integrity helps guide you through decisions in life. Like self-discipline. The ease with which we dismiss things we should do. Then, you’re simply unreliable, inconsistent, and unpredictable. This hurts relationships and work. Most justify or rationalize the mess in their lives. Fascinating how so many people spend time trying to save the world when they really need to just safe themselves, first.

By failing to honor our word to ourselves, not only do we undermine ourselves as persons of integrity, but we diminish who we are as a person – we are less than whole and complete as a person.

Like I’ve written about before this year, I’m trying to be a better, fuller human. I hope many of you are too.

All the best,