A Values-Based Approach to Living- Part 2: Character, Integrity and Honesty
Today is Part II of my series on A Values-Based Approach to Living. In this post, I focus on character and some of the values that comprise our character. You can read Part I here! I hope you enjoy this next edition.
Reputation is what others think of you. Character is what you know yourself to be –Coach John Wooden
You’re the one who knows what you do when no one else is looking. You know how you use your time and what your thoughts focus around. Character means that you take pride in being the absolute best that you can be, regardless of the “score” or whether anyone else is paying attention. Character is what you owe to yourself; your dignity, integrity, effort and self-respect.
When you’re being honest with yourself, there in all of the hundreds of moments throughout each day, keep asking yourself, “How can I continue to keep building- and getting better?”
Character cuts through race, class, ethnicity, religion and any multitude of other factors that can divide our society. You and I can exhibit strong character simply by being true to ourselves — our values — and by adhering to successful principles. Character is about being yourself. That doesn’t mean living unbound to any morals or simply living on a whim of, “it feels good.”
It means living the life you’ve been called to, even if you don’t yet have the script for what it looks like. The point is — life is not always easily figured out in our first 18 or 25 years. The picture gets clearer with time, and the person of character anticipates these revelations and changes, and pounces on them with strategic awareness.
They use them to their advantage and continue adding on to the masterpiece that God created. Themselves.
One of the greatest joys for me is continuing to perfect the person I am trying to become. It’s all about putting together the pieces of this astonishing, thrilling puzzle called, Life. I take up the gauntlet each day to try to get better in several areas — sometimes in only one area of my life. I feel like this is a worthy cause.
Constant improvement, concern with our thoughts and, how positive and upbeat we feel about our lives are part of the equation. Living with passion and fire are the gel that hold it all together. That’s life with a purpose. That’s character!
Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values. — Ayn Rand
Integrity is about doing what you say you’re going to do — being a person of your word. Integrity is defined as, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character,” and, “the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.” That’s precisely what I think of when I think of integrity: the state of being whole. Undiminished.
Integrity is the genuine article.
I can look back with fondness and pride at people I’ve known personally and, those I haven’t known but have looked up to as role models. In the end, it’s all the same: these are people who have lived their life with purpose and class. My first boss, at my first job in management consulting, is someone I got to know personally. He is a man of integrity.
I watched the way he carried himself, always showing humility, decency and a willingness to help others. There wasn’t an ounce or air of pride to that man.
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Harry S. Truman
What I respected most about my former boss was his generosity and the way he carried himself. He set the tone for the environment we worked in. Even if you had selfish motivations, I don’t think you could have double-crossed or deceived him. He was too good of a guy. His positive energy radiated the room.
Integrity matters so much to me because it’s the representation and embodiment of who and what we really are. People of integrity hold themselves to a higher standard. They set their goals, define success and aim as high as they can by setting the bar high. Integrity is unmistakable when you see it. It’s as real as the stars in the sky. It’s as authentic as seeing your first Major League Baseball game.
You remember it, you want to be a part of it. And you feel it.
Honesty always seeks the truth, tells the truth and lives on through actions in a truthful way. Of all the values, honesty is perhaps the most important and fundamental one. Honesty begets trust. Without trust in any type of relationship, you have no foundation or structure.
Trust is vital to moving forward and progressing toward love, acquiring knowledge and developing the fulfillment of our best intentions — our true desires. I’ll touch on trust in my next post, stay tuned!
When you’re honest, others will entrust things to you and you will trust yourself to deliver on what you say and promise. As you grow, you’ll increase in self-respect and the people around you will respect the person that you are. They’ll know you’re honest, a person of integrity and someone who can be afforded opportunities to continue performing at a level of excellence.
Honesty has, in some ways, unfortunately, become an even more desired characteristic in today’s world simply due to the amount of dishonesty. Just look at both candidates running for U.S. President.
“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” — Thomas Jefferson
While largely out of your control, you still benefit from being honest simply because many people choose to live in deceit and duplicity. Not only will you be ahead of the game by living honestly, most importantly, you should choose to do so for virtuous reasons. Honest people live with a clear mind and conscience — and less worry. There’s nothing to fear when you tell the truth. In fact, the world around you opens up with opportunity.
All of these things beget what you and society perceive, generally speaking, as success. Success springs from these aforementioned values. Your values help you to define success. Remember, this should only be developed and determined by you. Living with honesty and integrity affords you the opportunity to live life on your own terms.
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