If you found money in the street, would you keep it? What if no one saw you, and no one would ever know? Integrity means following your moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances — even if no one is watching you. Every day, we all have opportunities to demonstrate integrity and to be true to ourselves.
It may not feel like you have a chance to prove your integrity on a daily basis, but you do. Just imagine what the world would be like if everyone followed these guidelines:
- Keep your promises, even if it takes extra effort.
- Go back to a store and pay for something you forgot to pay for.
- Never betray a friend's trust even if you get in trouble.
- Inform the cashier he gave you too much change back.
- Do not gossip or talk badly about someone.
- Remain true to your spouse or partner.
- When in a serious relationship, don't keep secrets from each other.
- Return money that you noticed someone dropped without expecting a reward.
- Ignore someone's advice on how to cheat on your taxes and not get caught.
- Do not let someone else take the blame for something you did.
- If someone gives you confidential information, never tell anyone what you know.
- When it is obvious to you a relationship is over, don't drag it out but discuss it openly.
Most workplaces have a code of ethics, which lets employees know about shared expectations. But it's still important to have integrity at your job — even if it's not listed on a company memo.
- Work when you are supposed to and save socializing, snacking, searching the internet, and personal phone calls for break time.
- Turn in the extra change you found in the soda or snack vending machine.
- Show respect to coworkers with appropriate conversation and empathy.
- If you are in management, keep your employees informed so they will know what is coming and what needs to be done.
- Adhere to company policies and procedures.
- Be responsible. Do what you say you will do.
- Use materials for work and not personal use.
- If you make a mistake and a team's project gets messed up or you miss a deadline, own up to your mistake. Don't let teammates take the fall.
- Work together as a team. This builds trust and shows integrity.
- Never steal supplies from the workplace.
- If you find yourself in a conflict of interest, get out of it as soon as possible.
- Don't accept praise or acclaim for someone else's work. That includes stealing someone's idea or pretending to have worked on a successful project.
- When making a business deal, make sure everything is on the table and nothing was left out.
- If your company asks you to do something against your personal code of conduct, refuse. If it means losing a good paying job, so be it. Find a more ethical company to work for.
Life lessons involving integrity start in the family. Parents and their children can practice integrity in small ways so larger situations are easier to navigate.
- Speak honestly about feelings.
- Encourage children to talk about the natural consequences of their actions and what they can do differently next time.
- Foster a supportive atmosphere where family members are comfortable apologizing (and accepting apologies).
- Provide positive consequences for honest, kind and considerate behavior.
- Parents should model moderate reactions to minor situations so children don't feel that they need to lie to stay out of trouble.
- Keep discussions open for children to talk about thorny issues from their day.
- Provide opportunities for children to be self-sufficient.
- Allow siblings to settle their own conflicts.
- Help children to be role models for younger kids.
- Focus on personal growth — for everyone.
- Stay engaged in each other's lives and help one another through rough times.
- Avoid judgemental talk and behavior.
The concept of integrity is a popular one among leaders and authors throughout history. Famous quotes that address integrity include:
- "Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity." - W. Clement Stone
- "Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not." - Oprah Winfrey
- "Perhaps the surest test of an individual's integrity is his refusal to do or say anything that would damage his self-respect." - Thomas S. Monson
- "One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised." - Chinua Achebe
- "You are in integrity when the life you are living on the outside matches who you are on the inside." - Alan Cohen
As you reflect on your day, try to think of the moments when you practiced integrity — or when you could have practiced integrity. Even if today wasn't your best today, tomorrow could be! For more self-reflection, check out: