When we were kids, we cemented a promise with the “pinky swear.”  As adults, it’s about integrity.

Long before I read “The Four Agreements,” I understood the first principle of that book, which is to “be impeccable with your word.”  I’m concerned that integrity might now be on the decline.  For example, several months ago I was on endless hold with my cable company (I’m not going to name names, but it rhymes with socks), listening to their crappy music and intermittent interruptions to say, “your call is very important to us.”  Really?  Maybe corporations just lack integrity.

Dictionary.com defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”   While the word “honesty” has a straightforward meaning, I believe that “morals” and “ethics” are subjective.  So, let’s leave morals and ethics out of this discussion and concentrate solely on honesty.  Which leads me to wonder why do some people lack integrity?  

Do you have a friend who says she’ll help out, be there, do something, and then she doesn’t? My nickname for that person is “50:50 no-show” and sometimes I think I’m being a bit too generous with my calculations. It’s frustrating, exhausting, and disheartening to someone like me who’s always done my best to show up.  Take my friend “Gina” for example.  She had good intentions when she committed to bringing the wine to our book club, however when the day arrived, she cancelled, and I had to make an emergency run to the liquor store when I had way too much else to do.  Why did she flake?  Was she having a bad day?  Didn’t she realize how important wine was to our book club? Is Gina a 50:50 no-show?  Does she lack integrity?

Let’s make sure to connect our integrity to our intentions.  When I commit to volunteering every Tuesday night, it is with the full intention that I will be there every Tuesday night.  It is also with the utmost integrity that I make the commitment because I am, first and foremost, being honest with myself.  I can and will be there every Tuesday night.  And when I tell my clients that they will receive the first draft of their settlement agreement by Thursday afternoon, you can be sure that I will get the work done as promised. 

It seems to me that the 50:50 no-show people we deal with, sometimes on a daily basis, might actually have a problem being honest with themselves.  Maybe they simply don’t understand the connection between intention and integrity. They just don’t keep their promises, regardless of the figurative pinky swear.  And so, we either bail them out or write them off, vowing that we will do better. 

At the end of the day, the only person whose integrity I can control is my own.  And I do so by making sure that I’m honest with my words and with my actions.  I connect my integrity with my intentions.

What do you do to maintain your own integrity?