The Importance of Integrity: Now More Than Ever

Keeping your word to yourself and others makes you exactly the kind of entrepreneur people want to do business with.

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By Nick Unsworth

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We have gotten grown accustomed to the wearing away of integrity in our modern world. We are used to being on hold with customer support for what feels like hours, listening to repeated messages like, "Your call is important to us." We've become so immune to products that fail to deliver, that at times we forget to even return them. And we know, perhaps cynically, that the person who said he would call, never will.

On the contrary, we are pleasantly surprised when someone does what she says she will. We are taken aback when we get a human on the other end of a customer service line. And, when a company stands behind its products, and takes returns years later, we stay loyal to it. Because these people and that company have integrity. And integrity will make you and your business stand heads taller.

Related: The Importance Of Honesty And Integrity In Business

The author Don Miguel Ruiz sees integrity as so vital that he declared it one of his Four Agreements: "Be impeccable with your word. Speak with Integrity. Say only what you mean."

What exactly is integrity anyway?

Integrity means standing by your word in everything you do.

When you take money for a service or a product, you must stand behind that service or product with everything you have. That business transaction is a test of your integrity. Do you deliver what you say you deliver? Do you turn yourself inside out to deliver for your client?

Having integrity with others.

Being in integrity does not mean that you can always deliver. But it does mean that you will do everything in your power to do so. I like to call it "turning yourself inside out." Unless you have turned yourself inside out to keep your word, you are not in integrity.

Of course, you can always renegotiate your agreement. That also can be a form of integrity. Instead of trying to please too many people because you've overcommitted, admit it and then use your word to renegotiate the agreement.

People who lack integrity do not stand by their word, and avoid difficult conversations that may arise when they must renegotiate. When people lack integrity, we can easily find ourselves confused about their intentions and feelings, and whether we cannot trust them.

Having integrity with yourself.

Having integrity with yourself is just as important. Do you keep your word to yourself? When you decide to lose weight or change a habit, do you follow through or do you let weak behavior get the better of you.

Related: 8 Ways You Can Use Science to Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick

Most New Year's resolutions don't last because we lack integrity with ourselves. The more our own word lets us down, the less faith we have in our word, and ultimately, in ourselves. And, when we wear down our faith in ourselves, all of our relationships suffer.

How to be in integrity.

  • Keep Your Word: As Miguel Ruiz wrote, "Be impeccable with your word." Whatever you say, do. If you know you cannot do it, then don't say it. Renegotiate your word if necessary, but never go back on it.
  • Be Honest: Speak your thoughts and feelings honestly. Never use your words to mask the truth. Rather, make sure your words be the carriers of truth.
  • Be Deliberate with the Words You Tell Yourself and Others: Words carry an enormous weight to them. Never use words against another person in the form of gossip, and never use words against yourself to berate yourself, your feelings or your actions. Your word means everything, to you, as well as others. Your words are powerful. Use them wisely.

Related: Inspiring Leaders Know to Choose Their Words Carefully

When you stand behind your word, and do everything you say, then you will soon learn to measure your word, not giving it lightly, and not giving it often. And when you do give it, there's power and magic in it, because what you say you'll do, you'll do. When you have integrity, it will overflow into every relationship, personal and business, and you will be a magnet to attract the right people into your life, for people want to do business with the person who keeps his word.

Nick Unsworth

CEO of Life On Fire

Nick Unsworth is CEO of Life On Fire, a business coaching company located in San Diego, Calif.

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