Who are you when nobody is looking? That is how integrity (#6 out of the 7 Army values) was defined for me in the military. More specifically, integrity in the military meant “doing the right thing when nobody is looking”. But what does that really mean? In this article, I’ll dive deeper into what integrity really is and why it’s so important to have integrity in our journey to finding true happiness and fulfillment in life…
Let me start by asking you a few simple questions so you can take a moment to actually think through what integrity means to you…
Who are you when nobody is looking?
Are you doing the right thing when nobody else is watching?
Are you the same person behind closed doors that you are when you are out in the open?
Are you a different version of yourself when you are at work or school or in front of family and friends?
Integrity is the core component of our moral compass that leads us to make choices throughout our lives. Our individual level of integrity plays a vital role in who we are as a person and how we choose to live.
So why is this so important?
Well, without integrity there would be no way to trust one another. How could I expect someone to trust me if it turns out that I say, do and believe different things when I am behind closed doors than I do when I am around others?
How could someone trust me if I say one thing but do another when they are not around?
How can you trust someone if you don’t know the real version of them?
If we are a different person when we are alone versus when we are around others, which version is the real us?
Which values, beliefs and actions best represent the real version of ourselves? And why should the real version of us have to be isolated to just one part of our lives? It is because we are afraid to be judged by others? Or that we don’t like being honest with ourselves? Or do we want others to have a different impression of us?
Secondly, without integrity, our morals and values are simply fancy words we recite to impress our parents. Our morals are only as valuable to us as we make them out to be and that value shines bright when we live by those morals 24/7, not just between the hours of 9-5 or when we are around other people…
Finding fulfillment in life comes when we find purpose in our everyday life and that includes the way in which we live our lives (every part of our lives).
If we focus on living our entire lives based on the valuable morals and principles that make us who we are then we are destined to find fulfillment in how we live. But that requires us to have the integrity to be honest with ourselves and those around us.
That brings me to the second part of integrity. Are you doing the right thing when nobody is looking?
To me, integrity is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regardless of the setting in which you find yourself. It’s being genuine and it’s following your moral compass in every part of everyday. And if you aren’t doing the right thing when nobody’s looking, then having integrity means you take accountability for that and own your mistakes.
I’m talking about something deeper than having the integrity to admit if we snuck a cookie before dinner. Having true integrity is admitting the hard stuff like when you make mistakes or cause others pain, especially if no one has caught your mistake.
Telling the truth is easier when we get caught because someone confronts us and forces us to make a choice for whether or not we will take accountability. But true integrity is hard because it requires us to be honest with ourselves.
Having integrity would mean you step up and admit when you are wrong even if nobody else noticed. It’s admitting you might have hurt someone before they bring it to your attention or it’s accepting honest responsibility when someone does confronts you. No lying. No excuses. No escaping.
It’s admitting you cut corners on work you completed or made a mistake even if nobody would ever know. It’s going back to fix the work you did if you know it’s not done right and it’s owning your faults regardless of whether or not someone noticed.
And most importantly, integrity helps you develop yourself as an individual behind closed doors because it requires you to work on yourself when nobody else is around.
Having integrity isn’t just about being honest with others but being truthful with yourself as well. It’s doing the things you told yourself you would do and living life by the guidelines that represents the type of life you want to live.
How can we expect to make true progress in life if we are only working hard or are only “disciplined” when someone’s watching?
Integrity is 24/7 honesty with yourself, the mirror you look in every morning and every night, and with the entire world you. When you bring that level of honesty into your life despite how challenging it may be, you are destined for true happiness and fulfillment in life because you are the real you, always.
Wait! Before you go…
My father always tells me, “My hope is that you’ll hear my voice in your head long after I’m gone reminding you of everything I’ve taught you.” The truth is, my parents have taught me so much about life and I hear their voices replaying those lessons in my head over and over again every day.
Now as a parent myself, I’m realizing that I want the same for my daughter. For her to grow up hearing my voice teaching her all of the right lessons to guide her through life and for that voice to stick in her head long after I’m gone. In fact, I think most parents probably feel the same way.
But what messages are we using our voice to share? What are we teaching our kids? I created this channel to help spread positive and inspirational messages and lessons about life in a world otherwise full of negativity.
This channel is my way of sharing my voice and my perspective on life with the rest of the world. The same voice, perspective and messages I want my daughter to grow up hearing.
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