In a world where too many people compromise their values in the name of love or success or whatever it is they want, integrity is a rare and valuable thing.
What exactly is integrity? It’s this – when you do the right thing, the honest thing, even when no one’s looking…that’s integrity.
Quite a tall order, huh?
But if you want to start living life with integrity, you’d do well with cultivating these 10 character traits.
Have you ever done any of these things?
- Pretending to be interested in something someone is saying when you’re really not
- Calling in sick to work but you actually just want to take a day off
- Fudging the truth on a job application or resume
- Exaggerating a story to make it more interesting
- Telling a white lie
Don’t worry, I’m not here to judge! The truth is, we’ve all pretty much lied or “massaged the truth” or done something that isn’t quite upright at one point in our lives.
Take white lies, for example. These little nuggets may indeed be useful to keep our relationships smooth and fuss-free.
They may seem harmless, but you know what? In the long run, they can damage a relationship and make people trust you less.
That’s why people with integrity put honesty above all things. They are committed to being truthful because they know the harm that dishonesty can cause.
They also have such a strong sense of right and wrong that if they tell a lie, their conscience won’t be able to take it.
Just as they have a strong moral compass, people with integrity also have a strong sense of responsibility.
They follow through on their commitments. When they say they’ll do something, you can rely on them to do it. They won’t make promises they can’t keep.
That sense of responsibility extends to their mistakes, too. They understand that their actions have consequences, so if they mess up, they’ll hold themselves accountable for their actions.
Another trait that defines a person with integrity is their steadfastness to their values, and you’ll see them living these out in their day-to-day life.
You won’t find them contorting themselves into different shapes just to fit in. Fakeness just isn’t in their vocabulary.
They are authentic people who aren’t afraid to be themselves, even when it’s difficult and uncomfortable. That means they’re also willing to be vulnerable – a rare trait that truly endears them to people!
All of the points above add up to one thing – people with integrity can be trusted.
Whether it’s a deep dark secret or a huge project at work, you can rest assured that people of integrity can keep your confidence.
Remember when I said that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one’s watching? That’s exactly why people with this trait can put you at ease – you know they’ll stay true no matter what.
Because respect is a key component of integrity, it totally makes sense that people with integrity approach others with empathy and compassion.
I’ll give you an example. I have a friend, David, who owns a successful business. I call him a unicorn because he’s a rare breed who managed to make it to the top while taking care of everyone in his company.
He makes sure his door is open to everyone, and he always does his best to listen to and address their concerns. In the cutthroat world of business, where employees tend to blur into faceless entities, David’s kind is truly rare.
But that’s how it is with people of integrity. They always see each person they meet as unique, with diverse skills, experiences, and viewpoints worthy of attention.
Drawing on that previous point, I must also emphasize how fair and open-minded people with integrity are.
I guess it naturally goes hand in hand with their empathetic nature and the importance they place on honesty.
They keep an open mind in order to get at the truth, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it is. They don’t have that nasty habit of jumping to conclusions and making snap judgments.
Instead, they take the time to think critically and objectively through issues. They give other people the benefit of the doubt because they want to give everyone a fair chance.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for people with integrity to make a decision that doesn’t benefit them, as long as it’s fair and just.
This leads me to my next point…
Humility is another key trait of people with integrity. I’ll show you how that works.
As I mentioned earlier, they take responsibility for their mistakes. That shows humility, doesn’t it?
And they make decisions that aren’t necessarily in their favor if it’s the right thing to do. People with huge egos won’t be able to do that.
Lastly, here’s something fascinating about them – they have no idea just how admirable they are, which explains why they don’t have ego and pride-related issues. They simply go through life being themselves, which happens to be awesome!
There’s no doubt that people with integrity are a cut above the rest. They just have that innate goodness in them that drives them to live life on the straight path.
When other people talk about them, it often goes something like this: “He’s a good guy/a stand-up guy/a decent person…”
You get the drift.
Basically, people just know that they’re someone upright and trustworthy, with not a single ounce of deceit in them.
Now, I don’t mean to paint a rosy picture, as if people with integrity have no flaws.
Not at all. In fact, they struggle with temptation, just like everybody else. The difference is, they have the power to say no to things that go against their principles.
They can regulate their thoughts, emotions, and actions to stay true to uphold their moral standards.
That takes tremendous willpower and self-discipline! And courage, too, as I’ll show you in the next section…
Think it’s easy to keep living a principled life in a world where we’re supposed to go along to get along?
People with integrity are only able to do so because they’ve got tons of courage. After all, it’s never easy to stand firm and go against the current.
For them, no matter how hard it is, it’s still easier to do the right thing than spend endless nights regretting that you didn’t.
In her book The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank put this so succinctly – “A quiet conscience makes one strong!”
Why integrity is important
Life is a wild rollercoaster that doesn’t just go up and down; sometimes, it goes off on crazy tangents and sends us in various directions!
That’s why integrity is important – it acts as a guiding compass to help us navigate the wild ride and stay grounded.
When we face challenging situations, tough choices, or moral dilemmas, our sense of integrity reveals to us the clear answer, or at the very least, the direction we should go.
It’s a fundamental building block of strong character because it guides our every thought, decision, and action.
And once other people see that you’re a person with integrity, they’ll find it easy to trust and respect you.
How to develop integrity
I won’t lie and tell you that integrity is easy to develop. Honestly, it can be challenging because it requires a lot of willpower!
That said, here are some ways you can begin to develop integrity:
Define your values
Identify your core values and principles, and commit to living in alignment with them. This will help you to stay true to yourself and make decisions that are consistent with your values.
It’s time to ditch the habit of telling little white lies that you think do no one harm. Practice being honest in all aspects of your life, even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable.
But do it kindly – you can give your honest opinion without sounding brutal or harsh.
Be accountable for your actions and choices, and don’t blame others or make excuses. Follow through on your commitments and never leave anyone hanging.
Work on building trust with others by being reliable, dependable, and honest. If you commit to something, make sure you show up. And try not to make promises you can’t keep!
Integrity isn’t something you practice just when it’s convenient or it suits you. It means behaving ethically even when it doesn’t. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Learn from your mistakes
Nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. That’s fine; the key is to use them as opportunities to grow and improve.
Surround yourself with positive influences
I think that this makes all the difference in one’s character and sense of integrity. Motivational speaker Jim Roth once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
So, examine your circle, especially the ones you’re closest with. Are they people with integrity as well? It’s easier to be upright when you’ve got positive and supportive role models around you.
The benefits of living with integrity
So, you now know that building integrity is no easy task. But is it worth it? You bet!
When people see you’ve got your head screwed on right, and you do things the honest way, you’ll earn their respect. Not only that, you’ll earn their trust.
Those are two basic foundational aspects of great relationships.
But more than that, for me, the biggest benefit of living with integrity is the fact that you can hold your head up high no matter what.
You might have made a decision that doesn’t benefit you or that puts you on the losing end, but as long as you knew it was the right thing to do, you’ll be okay.
Because integrity, above all, makes you free of regrets.
You’ll have peace of mind and you can sleep soundly at night, no disturbances from your conscience. If you ask me, that’s priceless!
The challenges of having integrity
However, having a clear conscience doesn’t mean everything’s going to be easy-peasy. Living a life with integrity comes with its own set of challenges. Let’s break it all down.
It requires you to be brave and strong
Let’s face it – standing up to popular opinion or people’s expectations can be scary. Not everyone has the guts for that.
As I mentioned earlier, being a person with integrity calls for lots of courage and strength. When you’ve got ideals to uphold, and those ideals go against the world’s, it can be tempting to just be quiet and go along.
Let’s say you saw someone being bullied. It can be scary to step in and put a stop to it, right?
But I’m pretty sure that if you do that, you won’t be able to look at yourself in the mirror. You’ll constantly be plagued by the thought that you faltered when it mattered most.
So you can’t be fainthearted. You’ve got to dig deep in yourself for the courage to stand by your principles.
You have to deal with criticism
Have you ever experienced being criticized for a decision you made? I have, and it didn’t feel good. This is another challenge that people with integrity face all the time.
See, when people with questionable intentions see that you won’t bend to their whims, they’ll attack you. Or call you names both in your face and behind your back.
Such people will go low and resort to attacks on your character because they don’t know how else to pull you down. After all, you’re on a much higher level than they are.
It makes for difficult choices
Picture this: you’ve got a job offer with lots of perks and the highest salary you could ever hope for. The catch is, you’ll have to do certain things that contradict your values.
Let’s be real here…that salary and those perks can be incredibly hard to say no to, right? I know I’d be lying if I said that this is an easy choice.
I’ve had this happen to me – I ended up not accepting the job, and one of my friends joked, “Oh why do you have to complicate things so much?”
But you know what? As much as I hated saying goodbye to the thought of that fat paycheck, I was at peace. I knew I’d made the right choice.
This is just one example of the times when having integrity can get in the way of an otherwise easy decision. But the good thing is, you’ll always have a good night’s sleep!
It’s hard to avoid temptations
Oh, this one’s really, really challenging.
We’re all human, and even when we’ve got the best intentions, even when we want to live life according to our values, sometimes it can be super tough to take the high road all the time.
Sometimes it could be due to old patterns of thinking or a lack of self-control.
But the good thing is, we’re always a work in progress. And just because you failed once doesn’t mean that’s it for you.
You can always pick yourself up and do better next time. The main thing is to keep moving forward and aiming to manifest integrity better in your life.
You have to deal with the consequences of your actions
I’ll admit this – sometimes, I think life would be easier if we never had to face up to our mistakes. If we could just gloss over them and move on. That would feel blissful, right?
But while that is a tempting thought, it should also be a fleeting one.
Because as a person of integrity, one can’t help but own up to their mistakes and accept the consequences of their actions.
It’s definitely one of the more unpleasant aspects of having integrity. Don’t get me wrong; it’s necessary, but unpleasant nonetheless.
The future of integrity
Fortunately, even as the world continues to be full of shady characters and people with dubious standards, the future also looks good.
Thanks to technology, we now have social media and other digital innovations that help put a spotlight on transparency and accountability.
These platforms have become a tool for calling out people who behave in an offensive or disrespectful way. We’ve become more vocal about demanding transparency from companies and governments.
People – especially the younger generations – are also now more aware of social and environmental responsibility because information about these areas is now more accessible.
This pushes them to be more mindful of the way they act; it helps them think about their own accountability in the face of these issues.
In the future, we might see integrity take on new forms as we adapt to the changing world. And who knows, maybe we’ll even see a shift in how we measure success. Maybe the time will come when we shift our focus more to ethics and values rather than just money and power.
One thing’s for sure, though. As long as there are people who care about making a positive impact and living according to their values, integrity will always have a place in our future.
So let’s keep striving to be our best selves, staying true to our principles, and inspiring others to do the same. And remember, as Shakespeare said, “Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.’