In his new book, The Leadership Crisis And The Free Market Cure, John Allison defines Integrity as, “the harmony of mind and body” and says that, as a principle, it “guides us to act consistently with our beliefs.”
After a brief but brilliant explanation regarding how one cannot act with integrity if one’s values are either contradictory or not aligned with reality, the former BB&T CEO, now CEO of the libertarian think tank, Cato Institute made what I felt was another profound point:
“Many people view integrity as some form of duty. Integrity is not a duty. It is a means to improve the probability of being successful and happy.”
I find that statement to be powerful because if one displays integrity simply out of obligation to others, he or she cannot truly be happy. It’s only when one lives in integrity because it is congruent with their own values and how they wish to relate to the world that it can lead to happiness and personal fulfillment.
The extra benefit to living with integrity is that others respect you; they trust you more…and are more likely to want to be in relationship with you.
Mr. Allison’s teaching reminded me of wisdom from another person I also greatly admire, the late, Harry Browne.
“Honesty is not a self-denying virtue. It’s one of the greatest assets a salesperson can have.”
There are two parts to this, as well. First, you are honest not for the sake of others (though, that is also very important) but because it is congruent with your personal value system. This allows you to be happy. And, in the end, happiness is what we as human beings ultimately desire.
The additional benefit to being an honest salesperson is the degree of trust you earn from your prospective and current customers and clients. This results in their gladly buying from you and just as enthusiastically referring you to others.
Yes, living with integrity and honesty certainly makes you more valuable to those whose lives you touch and influence. It affects you, however, on a much deeper level.
Because, when it comes right down to it…
It allows you to genuinely feel good about yourself and live with a sense of joy, peace of mind, and happiness.