What is Integrity?

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his Integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”, Bob Marley.

Integrity is one of life’s most surprising values. But what exactly does Integrity mean? It’s a word people often confuse with honesty but the truth is that they are two separate entities. We hear it a lot in business culture but not enough in our own lives.

Integrity is telling yourself the truth, whereas honesty is telling the truth to other people.

A person with Integrity is always going to have bitter enemies, circling around like predators seeking their prey. These enemies are a representation of disloyalty, corruption and dishonesty. All of which come under the word, ‘Ambiguity’.

Mr Ambiguous is a master of the ‘maybe’, ‘if’ and ‘but’. He never gives a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Look around you; you can always spot a Mr Ambiguous in your everyday life… they are the ones sucking up to everyone, wanting everyone to like him. He changes how he speaks to fit the circumstance and his nickname is ‘two-face‘. He talks in shades of grey, neither completely black nor white. He can’t take a clear position on issues – because he’s always sitting on the fence. He makes sure he can spin things to his advantage and he’s careful not to say anything that might compromise his way of escape.

Whatever it may cost, he always needs to have an alternate route. To be in a position that doesn’t edge him into a corner!

His posture says it all…He never stands up straight, never holds his head high, but mostly looks downwards or sideways, looking to plan his next subterfuge.

Whatever the situation he’s in, he’s an expert in the art of ‘lip service’, keeping one foot in and one foot out, never taking sides, never being decisive, never simple or clear, but being consistently vague in whatever he says and duplicitous in everything they does.

Hypocrisy is their best friend…they have fun together everywhere…they always make a good first impression – it’s their speciality. Unfortunately, that’s all there is! Mr Ambiguous doesn’t mean what he says and doesn’t say what he means.

His values are: duplicity, evasion and vanity, and that’s’ the sum of his daily plan. Of course, he can’t stand Authenticity and Consistency. He always feels uneasy with them because every time he meets them they challenge him to reveal who he really is, to do what he says – but if he did that, he’d embarrass himself in front of everyone. That must never be allowed to happen because, for Mr Ambiguous, wearing the best mask at the ball is the ‘be all and end all’ of his life!

The writer Nigel Hawthorne springs to mind when he wrote;

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

So back to the topic of Integrity. Integrity, like love, is an ‘umbrella’ of value under which other values receive hospitality. Choosing to live a life of Integrity – a principled life – inevitably means adopting other values that are closely related.

A person with Integrity is like a tree with deep roots. Their actions are rooted in their values. Their actions are inspired by the principles they hold. When the storm comes their roots will keep them stable. Their principles will keep them balanced and strong in the turbulent wind and rains of life. In their race they stay in their own lane, they don’t look at their opponent’s position; they simply fix their gaze straight ahead.

On the other hand, living an (un)principled life leads us to experience negative emotions that are out of harmony with our being. It’s a very common form of self-destructive behaviour and has its roots in conflicting actions like, “I believe something and I say it, but I don’t do it”, all of which weaken us emotionally and mentally and as a consequence, physically as well.

Choosing the values we want to live by is to define our identity and our destiny. However, truly living those values is to have Integrity.

The strength of a nation derives from the Integrity of the home and this is what our world needs more of!

K xo


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