Integrity, What Does it Really Mean?

Integrity, What Does it Really Mean?

What does ‘integrity’ mean to you?

A common definition I hear used is:

Integrity is doing what you say you’re going to do.

While I love the simplicity of this definition, I think in practical terms integrity stands for something so much greater and more personal. 

Let’s dive into integrity as a fundamental component of self-confidence, and explore how it works in everyday life with constantly changing circumstances.

Firstly, integrity is for your own self-confidence. 

Actually, your self-confidence depends on it.

With every conversation you have in your head where you tell yourself that you are going to do something, one of two things will happen:   

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You do what you said you would do.  This creates self trust.

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You don’t do what you said you would do.  This creates self distrust.

Over time, the amount we believe ourselves, or believe in ourselves, is the product of building self trust and distrust through what we say and what we do.  The amount we trust ourselves underpins our self-confidence.  As self trust increases, so does self-confidence.  As self trust decreases (due to self distrust), so does self confidence.

Let’s look at some common examples of promises you might make to yourself:

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Exercise

You say to yourself, “I want to get back into shape so tomorrow, I’ll go for a run.”  And the next day, you either go for your run (building self trust) or you don’t go for a run (building self distrust).  

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Career

You say to yourself, “I’m unhappy at work, so I’ll start applying for other jobs as soon as I get home.”  You arrive home and either start applying for other jobs (building trust), or you spend time doing something else (building distrust). 

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Relationships

You say to yourself, “I’m going to ask him(or her) out on a date next time I see him (or her).”  And the next time you see them, you either ask them out (building self trust) or chicken out (building self distrust). 

The exciting part of this, is that we have a way of building self trust and self-confidence.

The more you keep the promises you make to yourself, the more self trust and self-confidence you build.  It’s that simple! And the more you believe in yourself, the more you’ll be able to achieve. 

Here’s an exercise to try:

Write a list of 3 things you would like to accomplish in your day. Keep it simple and choose actions that are important but easy.  Writing them down is crucial for self accountability.  Tick them off at the end of the day, and see how it feels to build self trust.

Secondly, the definition of integrity above doesn’t take into account a conscious change of choice.

We live in a fluid environment and we are constantly absorbing new information so changing your mind will happen.

How do you know you are making a conscious decision to change your action as oppose to getting distracted or off track? Let’s take a closer look:

 You have an intention to complete something today, and have received new information that means your action is either irrelevant or there’s a better option available to you.  Do your research and make your decision knowing all the relevant information.

Are there downsides to this new action? Are there new obstacles to deal with? What’s the additional advantage to it? 

Does all of this outweigh your original course of action? 

If the answer is yes, change your action and associated timeframes for completion.

There is  a way to stay in integrity when you change your mind.  You need to consider two things – effective communication and restoring trust.

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Effective Communication

Get in to contact with anyone that will be affected by your change of mind.  Who is expecting something different from you or counting on your intial course of action? Communicate with them about why your action has changed and what they can expect instead.  Be clear with new expectations and timeframes. 

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Restoring Trust

Ask your affected network if they have any concerns about your change of action.  Are there other downfalls that you did not know about or expect.  Does your change of action impact them positively or negatively?  Work with them to resolve any resulting issues to restore trust.

In summary, integrity is fundamental in being able to trust yourself and those around you.  By bringing integrity back inside your head first, you can notice where you are letting yourself down and how often.  From here, you can work to restore your self trust and build self confidence.  And knowing that your world is constantly changing, it’s possible to make conscious decisions to change your plan and stay in integrity through effective communication and restoring others’ trust in you.