A few thoughts on the matter: The following information is simply one person's opinion based on life experiences and a personal understanding of truth and honesty--which are part of the foundational aspects of true integrity.
Integrity is a guideline, a benchmark, a point of reference or a goal that is used to make decisions that rely on truth and honesty. All things are related to this point of reference and judged accordingly. To maintain integrity, you must remember to refer to truth and honesty in ALL decisions, thoughts, actions and reactions. That's not an option if you're to have and maintain integrity in your life.
Integrity is something that a person builds and maintains during a lifetime. You can consider integrity as a building within a person's heart that starts when the person is young. This "building" begins with the first hole that is dug. Once the hole is dug, the foundation is laid--usually by parents and other leaders (church and school instructors). The walls follow with windows and doors added along the way. The windows would allow for transparency and serve as a type of checks-and-balances. The doors would allow for simple modification of a person's definition of integrity to enter into the training; trusting it's for the better. The roof is added later and serves to protect what has already been established from negative outside forces.
Leaving the past where it is, picking up the pieces and moving on is critical if you choose to "turn over a new leaf." Keys that lead to success in this endeavor include 1) attitude, 2) understanding, 3) grasping the reigns of life firmly and 4) implementing a new and improved plan to work with which will allow tomorrow to be a clean slate for you. Let the past go and concentrate on the present and the future.
Looking back is important for learning from our mistakes--but leave it at that--"looking back." Don't bring the past into the present or the future for any other reason, especially if the past is tainted in any way. Make new memories; Memories that are ethical and moral--blameless memories that shout and echo integrity.
Think about the future in the present tense. That is to say, live life as though what you're striving for has already happened and you're already benefiting from it's blessing. If you keep thinking of what you desire, integrity, as something you'll experience in the future, it will remain there...in the future. Bring it into "today." Live that life now.
Integrity must be maintained. A janitor cleans rooms for a living and you must be like a janitor to maintain true integrity. If you avoid the dust that settles and don't remove the trash that accumulates, your (definition of) integrity begins to diminish and decreases in value. A strict maintenance schedule must be kept or the integrity that has taken a lifetime to build will come crumbling down in a matter of minutes.
It's critical to note that integrity can be lost or compromised beyond recognition in a person's life. I've been there and am in the process of re-establishing integrity in my own life...and I'm finding it's not easy the second time around. Recognizing that integrity has been compromised or is totally lost from your life is the first step of many to come. The second step is to do something about it--and that is to make the decision to plant a new seed and water it daily...even minute-to-minute.
Honesty is a separate issue that definitely applies to personal integrity. To be honest is to apply integrity to a situation, circumstance or instance. Honesty and integrity go hand-in-hand without exception or separation. There are few things that complicate an issue or hurt more than dishonesty. At least honesty leaves a person with some sense of closure and dignity--despite the fact that honesty may sometimes hurt because you'll know the truth.
- begin and continue as a personal ON-GOING decision to stand firm on principals that are inherently good
- most likely take the long, straight and narrow road and does not cave into lying, cheating or stealing
- tell the truth over a lie despite the consequences
- suffer the consequences instead of compromising itself
- help to steer a person clear of those that easily bow to a corrupt nature
- be apt to lend a helping hand simply as a by-product of this special lifestyle decision
- diminish and eventually disappear if you choose to ignore and abandon it's blessing
- set you apart from a great number of people who have chosen to follow the lead of the current drummer
- sometimes separate you from the "in crowd," but that's not always the case
- on some occasions, make other people feel uncomfortable around you because of their own insecurities, problems and guilt
- impress others only because of your decision to adhere to such a (sometimes) difficult lifestyle
- sometimes put you into tight situations that APPEAR to be needlessly difficult
- allow for rebuilding. It will come back and continue to blossom if you choose and allow it to grow within.
Remember, you can live life the way you want, for good or for evil. But before we move on, I'd like to suggest the following story for your consideration:
Back in the middle ages (400-1400 A.D.) a great cathedral was under construction and employed many skilled laborers. One day a strange man came to town and asked several of the men what they were doing.
One man answered, "I have to lay this brick to feed my nagging wife and my many ungrateful children."
Another answered by saying, "I'm just trying to pass the time until I die and at the same time keep myself afloat."
Another man said, "I'm following my father's footsteps and doing what I'm told."
An old man answered, "I am a mason, this is what I do."
Yet another man was heard saying, "I do this because I have many debts to pay."
Then the stranger saw a young man laying brick who was working feverishly unlike the other workers. Intrigued, the stranger questioned this young man next.
After hearing the question, the young brick layer stopped, studied the yet unfinished building and answered by saying, "I'm taking part in the greatest building project in history. A cathedral unlike any other in the world. One of surpassing beauty and size. This cathedral will be the greatest the world has ever seen. I'm only laying the block, but my efforts will help this great cathedral to stand the test of time so future generations can marvel at and appreciate it's awesome beauty."
Needless to say, the previous story about the building of the cathedral reveals that it's not what you have to do, it's not what you want to do or what you think you should do, but it's about how you do all things in life.
How you do what you have to do; how you do what you want to do and how you do what you think you should do, will determine your success. You'll "have to do things," you'll "want to do things," and you'll "think you should do things" your whole life, but it's the quality of how you do them that really matters.
Integrity plays a critical part in quality decisions, thoughts and actions. It'll be obvious in how you act and react to expected and unexpected circumstances.
Everybody enjoys one or several types of music, regardless of their sex, culture, age or beliefs. Music is truly one of the few universal avenues to express yourself to where others will consider your art despite who you might be in their eyes.
Most people only enjoy listening to music, but few enjoy listening and creating music. Some musicians are good, some are better and then there are those who are exceptionally good--considered to have the "gift" of music. But even they have to practice.
I attended a concert recently where a fan of the featured musician anxiously walked up to his favorite performer and said;
"you're an outstanding musician!"
The artist replied by saying;
"thank you, I appreciate you saying so. I practice every day."
Just as the great musician must practice everyday to maintain his high level of artistic talent, so too must we practice implementing integrity into our every-day lives.
Allowing integrity to seep out only every now-and-then is not acceptable if we are to benefit fully from the blessing that integrity has to offer over a lifetime.
Integrity should be allowed to flow freely in the mainstream of our thoughts and actions. That, realistically, does not happen over night. It's a decision we must make every morning after we wake up. It's a decision we need to "remember" to make every morning after we wake up.
Studies show that if you do something twenty-one times in a row (but not like a robot in immediate succession), that "function" should be ingrained enough to where it becomes second nature after a while.
A simple note on the bathroom mirror, or one just above the door knob of your bedroom or some other place where you're sure to see it every morning--for 21 days or more--should do the trick. Give it a shot.
You can do it.
It's as simple as a decision--one of many that will be based on wisdom, good judgment, discernment and knowledge.
Choose to incorporate integrity in your life today.
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June 15, 2013 @ 10:51 am
I found your insights very rich and thought provoking on the subject of Integrity.
Would you please allow me to use them in my illustration for my message on Father's Day?
I sincerely thank you!
God bless you!
May 23, 2013 @ 12:19 am
Sir, My organization has tasked me to speak to the employees on Integrity and have found your presentation more benefit and reach. please could you consider my request and allow me to use your presentation.
May the Lord bless you abountly.
Kigali, Rwanda Rwanda
May 22, 2013 @ 11:10 pm
I found your article very informing and would like to get permission for possible publication in our company's monthly magazine.
Kwa-Zulu Natal South Africa
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Just as you can re-build a house when it falls down, so too can you re-establish integrity if you fall away from it's blessings. Note that in reality if a house must be rebuilt, it does not happen in a matter of hours or days.
Integrity can also be considered as a plant. It is planted as a seed in youth by loved ones, watered in childhood by the individual and eventually blossoms in adulthood producing fruit. The more you water it throughout life, the more it grows and blooms. Just as it is with plants, if neglected at any point, it WILL wither and die. If your plant has died, simply plant a new seed. Water it daily and make sure it gets plenty of sun! Note that a plant does not blossom immediately but must go through a life cycle first. So, getting familiar with integrity will take a while.
Have no illusions; integrity is not especially easy. Just as you can find and implement integrity into your own life, so too can integrity be lost. Some of the most destructive things and behavior in life are easy and simple to accomplish.
One thing you can almost always count on in life; if it's worth anything of real value, it will probably not be easy.
Consider the cup that cannot hold water. A person that lives their life without integrity is like a cup that cannot hold water. The crack may be invisible to the eye, but if it doesn't hold up to the test, that cup is virtually worthless. Many people walk around with a small crack that is easily hidden, but time reveals the flaw to everyone.
Integrity helps to define love although many things collectively define love, Integrity is a little different in that it plays a unique role in love. Integrity acts as a binder of the many things that help to describe the meaning of love. Integrity helps to keep together all the things that make up love so that love is constant and pure. For example, without a binder such as water, bread would be nothing more than baked powder with seasoning. Paper would be a collection of loose fibers.
Integrity can help to define you by acting as a binder that keeps your words, your thoughts and your actions honest, worthy and admirable to those around you.
- allow for decisions that may compromise personal belief and faith
- always APPEAR to help a situation
- be an easy decision for all situations
- be Disneyland and roses all the time
- give in to peer pressure simply because "everyone's doing it"
- give up on you--you can always re-establish integrity by making a conscious effort to re-build what past mistakes have broken down
- in an obvious way come to the rescue of a person
Integrity always, without exception benefits a person, but the benefit is NOT always immediately recognizable. In fact, some times the benefits of Integrity are not obvious for many years down the road. It's possible for a person to live most of their lives and not see the benefits of integrity until late in life. It's different for everyone and doesn't mean it's better or worse for you. It just means it's different for you, that's all.
As a side note:
- Give your loved ones and yourself permission and plenty of room to make mistakes.
- Know that in many cases, "things are not as they appear."
Integrity is NOT a one time experience or situation. Instead, Integrity is an on-going experience of a collection of situations where sound decisions are made based on good judgment, discernment, wisdom and knowledge.
Integrity has its by-products. As you become more familiar with a lifestyle that allows for integrity to bloom wild and free, life is usually filled with more and more peace--a by-product. After a while of on-going decisions guided by integrity, people begin to take notice. Employers begin to place more trust in you and your abilities. Friends rely more and more on your apparent wisdom. Better decisions lead to a better life.
As a direct result of your decision to establish integrity within yourself, you'll gain favor with many people. Unfortunately some will hate you for it--which is another by-product. People hate other people for the strangest reasons. Someone dedicated to truth and honesty is a typical target for those who pursue chaos and the misfortune of hate. There are many reasons for this misdirected hate, but the most common reason is their own insecurity (referring to the person who hates). People WILL be threatened by you because of your decision to maintain integrity.
People can tweak or modify their definition of integrity to suit their current needs, desires and ambitions. For that reason, it's possible to have a large number of definitions of the word or state of affairs in a person's life--but that doesn't necessarily mean they're all sound definitions.
This personal definition of integrity is an attempt to offer an unbiased presentation of what integrity can and cannot mean. That is to say this definition of integrity:
- is in no way the one-and-only true definition
- may actually serve to corrupt someone's definition of integrity--BUT this definition has a sincere intention to help explain the many sides of integrity's purity and benefits so that the reader can decide for themselves
- should help to answer some of the many questions people may have about integrity and the possible role it may play in a person's life, decision making, thoughts, actions and destiny
- should broaden one's insight about how much of a role integrity plays in their daily life, even minute-to-minute
Choosing a wonderful life over (just) life can make the difference between success and failure, peace and chaos, love and hate, and integrity plays a key role in those decisions.
Choose to be like the young man laying the brick to build what he believes to be the greatest cathedral in the whole world.
Choose to plant a seed that will become the immovable oak.
Choose to be like the janitor that maintains a clean household.
Choose to be a cup that can hold water and is half full instead of half empty.
...or in this case, in a fortune cookie.
The other day I was having lunch with two friends at a Chinese restaurant in Flagstaff, Arizona when I received an interesting "fortune" from the traditional after-dinner fortune cookie (that I usually smash on the table, work through the pieces for the "fortune," then consider the alleged "fortune" and toss what's left--I don't like the cookie, just the fortune). On this particular day the unusually unique "fortune" read:
"Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching."
After I stopped coughing and finally got some air as a result of the shock of reading something so prevalent in my constant search to define words that I want to apply to my life, I realized this "fortune" was by far the most profound, applicable and true "fortune" cookie I had ever received.
Such a simple yet concise definition of the word integrity from a fortune cookie? I could hardly believe it!