A diamond is valuable, both for it’s hardness and beauty. The other reality is that a diamond will appear vastly differently depending on how you look at it and what you use it for; in other words, it’s multidimensional. Integrity is a lot like that as well. I had no idea how much so until reading Integrity: The Courage To Meet The Demands Of Reality by Dr. Henry Cloud.
If you think integrity consists only of a moral dimension, you couldn’t be more mistaken…..I know I was.
Any mention of integrity usually evokes the concept of character as well. I like the way Dr. Cloud defines character as “…the ability to meet the demands of reality.” And just as metal will fail if the strength and design of it’s character aren’t adequate to meet imposed demands, so it is with your life; failure will occur when it collides with the imposed demands of life. You can count on it.
And while integrity encompasses character, there is more. In fact, integrity represents the following 3 general dimensions of character:
- Meeting moral and ethical standards and the ability to build trust
- Developing and executing skills and talents within context
- Seeing reality for what it is: the bad with the good, the granular and the big picture
As you can see, integrity goes way beyond what we typically think of as character and encompasses much more. Integrity means to be whole and undivided, unified or sound in construction, and internally consistent. In short, integrity is simply integrated character.
When we think of integrity in this more encompassing sense to include our talents, strengths and skills, it’s really about a person who has brought all these together in a way that allows him or her to execute at the highest level. It encompasses both who they are AND what they get done – their results.
When a person is living an integrated life….a life of integrity…. they are able to “deliver the goods” while hitting on all cylinders. In fact, when looked at this way the moral dimension is simply the ante to get into the game. The real question then becomes “can you play and deliver results?”
We all know that the demands imposed by the reality of life are many and varied. So what happens to our results when we’re lacking integrity in selected areas of our lives? The following three things can occur, singly or in any combination:
- We hit a performance ceiling that is way lower than our ability.
- We get off track and get derailed by something or someone.
- We reach success and find ourselves self-destructing instead of celebrating.
So how can we recognize when our integrity is lacking? The two most telling are found in the wake we leave behind us. Just as a boat leaves a wake so do we. And the twin sides of our wake are our results and our relationships. While we intuitively understand how a lack of integrity can tank a relationship, it’s not always as clear when it comes to results.
Take a look at your wake. Are you getting the results you want for yourself and your team, both in your tasks and relationships? If not, how would a more integrated view of character….integrity….give you greater awareness and clarity?
Please leave a comment, I’d love to know.