Six Pillars Of Building Your Integrity
Join Entrepreneur's The Goal Standard Challenge and make 2017 yours. Learn more »
The most important asset in any company or business is their reputation; it’s an accepted truth. Within the depths of any incredible reputation lies within its depths is integrity. I define integrity in a simplified way: it’s basically what you do when nobody else is watching. It’s a scary thought! Would any of us be comfortable having a DVD of our own thoughts and actions when no human eyes were upon us played back over a cinema screen? Probably not. We’ve all seen corrupt deals, and been dismayed by peoples half-truths and lies in a world crying out for truth. At its most basic, it’s about needing people to follow through with what they commit to delivering.
It’s only right and timely to focus on how we can become a person of integrity, and it may well be the difference between your pitch for business and a competitor’s pitch. It goes even beyond that- we need to be at peace with ourselves by living a life of high reputation and integrity as our success depends on it personally as well. People’s perception is often their reality, and you’d want them to have your good intentions at the forefront of their thoughts. Fostering your integrity, and ensuring that we are all continually working on our characters and the way we’re perceived, is an investment that will pay for itself. With all this in mind I want to share six pillars to building the foundation of a solvent and successful business.
1. Keeping your word
If you want to establish your reputation you must deliver on your promises! This is a basic requirement. To get ahead, you often need to over-deliver on what you give you’ve committed to and that doing it with pleasure. It means if you commit to delivering a piece of work for another firm or providing a benefit to your employee in the way you said you that were going to, then you must. Without excuses and without a change of conditions, let your yes be yes and your no be no. The latter is also related to keeping to your convictions: be decisive in your decision making, don’t sit on the fence. If you aren’t sure, then don’t give your word. Think before you makes your personal guarantees. Nothing destroys trust and loyalty as much as failing to keep your promises.
2. Showing up
Similar to keeping your promises is showing up. Often, when we make commitments we are making a decision based on how we feel with no forethought. When you tell your child you are going to be at their theatre recital or football game, you better be there with bells on. If you agree to go to a party on Saturday evening, when Saturday afternoon comes around you’re feeling tired from chasing the kids and playing 18 rounds of golf on the local golf course, you cannot just balk on your word. Yes, your energy is somewhat depleted, and you now change your decision and will decline going to the party. That evening, the host of the party expects you, but you never turn up. It seems insignificant to you, but this is a common scenario and it frustrates me how many people change their minds paying no regard to how it may effect someone else. Just being there says a lot about you and who you are, and at the same time, a lot is said when you commit to an engagement and have a change of heart because “you feel tired”.
3. Being kempt
Keep your person and your environment clean and organized. Our surroundings and the way we come across speaks volumes about our integrity that we have not only toward other people, but also to ourselves. Are we commendable stewards of the people, resources and talents we have under our own jurisdiction? Your environment will leave clues to the level of integrity that you adhere to as a general rule. You can’t afford to be messy, unprepared and scruffy. We are all being watched, the entire world is a spectator, not just our business associates. Whenever I go into a new town and want to find a place to eat, the first place I go is the washroom. If a restaurant can’t keep that area clean, they certainly won’t be much better off in the kitchen. First impressions matter, and taking pride in the presentation of both yourself and your environment is of paramount importance when reputation-building.
4. Maintaining focus
This world is full of distractions, temptations and opportunities. We have so much “screaming” for our attention. The ability to stay focused despite the onslaught and perpetual distractions will certainly test our integrity muscle. When someone pays you to do a job you owe it to them to put your all into it. It’s a question of your character, staying focused is a challenge for each of us. When we consider the “WHY” and fully understand our motivations and the reason for why we do something it equips us to stay focused, staying focused draws admirers, every person who is admired has strong levels of integrity.
5. Choosing influencers
Be influenced by positive people; this world is rife with negative forces. What we consider “news programs” no longer report on news, they report more on negativity to generate ratings. We must surround ourselves with people with high integrity, solid character, positive attitude and that are highly-respected in their fields of work. It’s not just people who can influence you- it’s what you read, it’s what you watch, it permeates the air where you hang out, and it’s in the environment that you open yourself up to. Be mindful of who you allow to disperse information and ideas into your life, and open up to those you admire and who already deliver a high standard of reputation in line with your own passions and skillset.
6. Taking responsibility
It’s vital that when we make a mistake we are quick to put our hands up and say, “I got that wrong.” Do apologize with a simple, “I’m sorry” and then work tirelessly to prove your remorse. Words can be powerful and they can also be cheap, back up your apology with action. It’s refreshing when you have the guts to take responsibility for your actions. We all make mistakes, some are genuine while others are sadly premeditated. We can all smell BS, so quit fabricating the truth. Liars are often insecure and seek baseless approval from outside factors, whereas the pursuit of solid integrity starts when you seek high standards from yourself.