Integrity is tricky. It doesn’t have to be. But it is. Integrity is about consistency, values, honesty, expectations and outcomes. It’s about what you preach matching what you do. It is something that takes daily discipline to maintain, and yet takes only a shadow of doubt to break down. Integrity is perhaps the most attractive virtue I find in the people around me.
Integrity is spoken of as often as diaper changes are in our family. (For those that don’t know, we have a 24 month old and a 7 month old. That is a lot of diaper changes.) Each day, my husband and I work to be the best examples of integrity for our very aware babies. Each day, we encounter teaching opportunities that test our own integrity. Antagonistic voices whisper, “it’s okay to cut this corner…you are tired, don’t have enough time…just do it this way…you said you’d do it, but maybe next time…good enough…you meant well.” And then little eyes look at us and we struggle to show the right example.
I could discuss so many levels of life that I think integrity includes (hence the “part 1”), but I want to focus this entry on integrity related to people holding steadfastly true to their commitments. Because I’ve recently struggled with balance and my own commitments, it’s raw and ready to be written. The idea of commitment can encompass many different kinds of intentions, promises, beliefs and relationships of trust and expectation. We are usually committed to any number of people, organizations, even traditions and ideas. Sometimes we make these commitments with ourselves in projects and work lists.
That is where I start to over analyze. When I don’t stick to a training plan for an upcoming race because of any number of “reasonable” excuses, do I lack integrity? When I make my list for the day or week, and I don’t get to the hand written note for the neighbor lady whose husband just passed away, am I chipping away at my integrity? It is easy to say I didn’t make that commitment explicitly to her and she’ll never know the difference…but if I can break my word to myself about an easy and quite meaningful task like that, what’s going to stop me from breaking my word on another level? After all, isn’t integrity wrapped up in doing the right thing even when no one is looking?