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Integrity is not measured in fractions
Its very definition sets the standard


Integrity is word that is interpreted casually by some, as well as misapplied for personal gain. Along with words like transparency and authenticity, it has become an overused “makes me sound/look good” trendy buzzword that is peppered into workplace conversations and employee trainings to give the person saying it the appearance of being highly ethical and trustworthy - the same goes for words like “mindful” and “humility.” It may be more aspirational than actual, yet unlike some other words that have a bit of "wiggle room” in their interpretation, there simply is none when it comes to defining integrity. 

The origins of the word integrity comes from the Latin word integritas, meaning whole and intact; in mathematics, an integer is a whole number, not a fraction. 

Although there are slight variations in how integrity is defined by various dictionaries, Lexico, an online dictionary driven by Oxford provides a fairly clear one:

  • The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

  • The state of being whole and undivided.

  • The condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.

  • Internal consistency or lack of corruption [in electronic data].

And the Cambridge dictionary gives one that takes the Lexico definition to the point of integrity itself:

the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change:

No one doubted that the president was a man of the highest integrity.

Integrity is not measured in fractions or percentage points. You can’t have integrity when you feel like it, or just when you are trying to impress people. There is zero doubt, and no “wiggle” room; therefore, a person or an organization with integrity always walks his/her/their talk, aligned with high universal ethical values and principles, unburdened by old, bug-ridden Internal Operating System egoic temptations or external pressures to behave in an opposite manner ever regardless of the situation or interaction they are in (aka the hypocrisy of “situational ethics”), and immediately and humbly acknowledges if they’ve even were tempted to stray from earning such an honorable assessment from others who never doubted they possess one of the highest qualities of human character attainable by all of us fellow imperfect human beings.

This however does not make that person “special” or “above others” or “self-righteous;” they have simply made an unwavering choice to engage in the right use of self, and to uphold an unwavering habit of acting, speaking and living with integrity because its the right thing to do, even when it’s far from the easiest thing to do. This can become a positive behavioral contagion through its ripple effect, as we lead the change by our whole, unified and undivided example. 

So when any of us makes a conscious and irrevocable decision to become a person of unshakeable integrity and trustworthiness, we start from where we are at in that moment. We are all imperfect human beings, and striving to be perfect is an impossible, toxic quest. 

With that said, we can take steps every day to refine our behaviors, and smooth our rough edges, bit by bit. We can engage in radically honest self-reflection by taking stock of what qualities we possess that align with integrity - and those that don’t. We do the inner work of tossing out our old junk, finding and polishing our hidden gems, and conquering our deepest fears. I like to call it being an “Indiana Jones” of our personal inner archeological dig. Make it fun. Be curious. Learn. Bring in a sense of humor, and don’t beat yourself up for past mis-steps and mistakes. Make amends whenever possible, and keep moving forward - forgiving yourself as well.

One way to consciously “integrity check” yourself is to simply ask in any personal challenge or dilemma you face:

"If this were my last moment on earth, is this how I would want to behave?"

Think for a few moments about this. How do you want to be remembered? What will be your legacy?

Then take a leap into the deep pool by reading and doing the Integrity and TrustWorthiness Self-Discovery Practice.

Answering the call to do our deep inner work for the positive impact it has on all we encounter is a gift we can give to ourselves and to the world.

Make your journey into the non-divided wholeness of personal integrity an adventure into what has made you you up until right now, realizing you are at choice as to how you show up in the world in any given situation, interaction and moment - knowing there are no unimportant situations, interactions or moments when it comes to being a person of integrity: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change.”

© July 20, 2021, Suzanne Matthiessen, innerevolution media.

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