Integrity is one of those intangible things which can affect us in very tangible ways. It is one of the few things over which you have complete control, because people can take your money, job, health and a myriad of other things from you, but they can’t take your integrity. Maintaining one’s integrity requires intentionality, e.g. purposely doing the right thing. One cannot maintain integrity with a “I can get away with it because no one will know” attitude. Why? Aside from the fact that time and circumstances will usually bring the truth to light, you can’t hide from the untruthfulness of your own actions.

These are but a few of the interesting thoughts presented at the Association of Legal Administrators International Educational Conference seminar entitled “Integrity: Living Right-Side Up in an Upside-Down World” which was presented by David W. Thomas, President of IntegriTalk. I must admit that I have found this to be the most compelling educational session thus far; even though others have provided me with more tools of the trade, this has provided me with the greatest food for thought.

I found particularly interesting his analysis of the essential elements of integrity:

1) truthfulness

2) empathy — which he defined in terms of living the golden rule and demonstrating respect for others

3) standing up for the courage of our convictions regardless of the pressure to do otherwise


4) accepting responsibility for our own action or inaction — no more passing the buck, finger pointing, or playing the blame game

I have always felt that it is in times of great adversity that we get to see the real mettle of a person. For it’s not how people handle good times, but rather how they handle the worst of times that speaks to the depth of their character, e.g. integrity.

You’ve probably observed someone at a particularly challenging point in their life and been amazed at the level of grace with which they accepted their situation and worked through it as best possible. You may have thought, “I could never handle this situation as well.” Of course, you never know, until you’re challenged to the same extent, whether you also have the “right stuff” to do the right things.


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