One of the words that has come up in a range of conversations in the last couple of days is “integrity”. It pops up in lots of places like the Air Force Values, and we would like to think we all “have it” but do we really KNOW what it is? The Values statement talks about integrity as “the courage to do what is right”, but how do we know what is “right”? Is it just about following the rules, obeying the letter of the law, or finding the minimum acceptable standard? Is there room in integrity to be flexible or maybe even opportunity to follow a gut feeling? In fact, the important question is, how do we know if we have integrity? How do we know if we, in the words of the Air Force Value statement are “demonstrating sound judgement?” After pondering those questions for a few days here are some suggestions on how to assess your INTEGRITY. The fact is integrity is about choices, choosing between:
Interest in self or Interest in others? Integrity is about seeing the big picture not just what I can get out of a situation, listening to others rather than just demanding that they do things your way.
Nursing grudges or negotiating solutions? Integrity means quickly admitting if you have done the wrong thing, and accepting responsibility, rather than just blaming everybody else. Integrity seeks to move forward and make difficult decisions even when there is a personal cost.
Transparency or Cover-up? Integrity demands that you are open and honest about how you have made decisions, doing what is right, not just what is convenient. Part of that is being honest about your own limitations and accepting other view points.
Exclude or Include? Integrity requires respect for all people, regardless of gender, age, culture, religion or sexual preference. Including people who are different from you will often help you to come up with the best decision, and option you may never have thought of on your own.
Gossip or Go to person? The right approach when you have something to say about people is to talk to them and not just to talk about them. Communication needs to be open and honest, and betraying confidences will undermine integrity every time.
Role-play or real? Ask yourself are you the same person all the time or do you change your mask on the basis of who else is around? Do you act the same way when you think no-one is watching as when you are in the spot light? Integrity is based on consistency.
Involves Accountability? We all need to be accountable to at least one other person for what we think, say and do. People who choose to be above the law and to keep things secret show a lack of integrity. Having a mentor or trusted colleague can save you a host of hassles.
Truthless or Truthful? Integrity is about making ethical decisions, adhering to accepted moral standards. It is about telling the truth even when it hurts for without truth there can be no trust, and without trust there can be no real relationship.
Yes or No? Integrity involves being reliable, meaning what you say and following through on your promises. But, it also accepts that both yes or no may be appropriate answers, because being a person of integrity means you will not just say yes because it is expected, you will choose to think things through and give careful, thought out answer to the question.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King Jr
INTEGRITY is important, so choose right to make sure that yours measures up!
Chaplain Ian S Whitley.