Playing with Integrity

I would say that integrity is a very important quality to have both in your professional life and in your personal life. What is integrity?

Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can be regarded as the opposite of hypocrisy, in that it regards internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs.

Source: Wikipedia

My own simplified definition could be something along the lines of

Doing what is right, not just when it’s convenient, but consistently and always, simply because it’s the right thing to do, and you know it. If in doubt, figure it out, and adjust accordingly.

Anyways, do you have it?

Traffic light (red)A little experiment

Have been trying a little experiment with myself lately. Definitely not saying that you need to do this to have integrity, but it was an interesting experience. What did I do? I simply decided to never walk on a red light. Didn’t matter if I was late or if there were no cars. If there was a red man standing, I stood too. Sounds simple, but over time and depending on the situation, it was actually quite a challenge. Here are some observations and thoughts I made while doing this:

  • I cross streets pretty much on auto-pilot. Adjusting my “pattern” was easy when I paid attention, but if I didn’t, it was easy to fall back to old ways.
  • It’s difficult to stop and wait if you’re late.
  • It’s easy to blame traffic lights when you just missed that sub-way, rather than looking at the real issue: leaving home later than you should’ve for the umpteenth time.
  • It’s easy to stop and wait when there are cars coming or when others already are.
  • It’s difficult to stop if nobody else are.
  • It’s difficult to stay put when everybody else starts walking.
  • It’s even more difficult to do the previous two if it’s your friends.
  • It’s incredibly easy to slip when you don’t really pay attention to what you’re doing and just follow a crowd.
  • It’s difficult to stick with it if your friends think you’re being silly. Especially if they start to tease and make fun of you standing there waiting. Even more so if they don’t even seem to care, and just keep walking, leaving you behind.
  • It’s difficult to explain a principle when you haven’t done your research.
  • It’s pretty much impossible to convince someone something is right when you’re not really sure yourself.
  • It’s easy to doubt yourself and your principles when others disagree or don’t see the point.
  • It’s easy to forget a principle when you’re not used to following it.
  • It’s easy to come up with excuses when you fail, especially to yourself.
  • It can actually be quite nice to force yourself to stop once in a while. Everyday life is full of stress and running around. Stopping at a red light is a good excuse to stop, breath and relax 🙂


You, like various friends of mine, might think this was a rather silly thing to do, but I must say I found it quite interesting. Learned quite a bit actually! The feelings I experienced while trying to follow a principle, no matter what, made me think. Especially when it was hard.

Something to think about

So, what did I learn? That being a person with integrity can be is hard.

As long as everybody else are doing it too, it doesn’t feel hard. When the people around you start moving in a different direction, then the real struggle begins. Especially when those people are people you look up to and respect, teachers, co-workers, your boss, your friends and your family…

Do you have principles? Can you stand for what you do? Do you base your actions on what’s right, or do you just go for what you find comfortable or convenient? Do you just follow the crowd and the popular opinion, or do you dare to stick out?

What about when people start to question you? Do you have good reasons for why you do what you do and the choices you make?

What if they turned out to be right? Would you be too proud to admit it? Are you open to being wrong? Would you dare to investigate?

Acting with integrity is indeed hard, but it actually can become easy. What you need are strong legs and a firm foundation.

How to get it

I’m no expert, but here are some thoughts:

  1. Exercise your legs so you can stand on your own. Make it a habit to do what’s right, and to admit it when you didn’t.
  2. Find that firm foundation. Have a look at what you’re currently standing on. Make sure it’s sturdy. If it’s not; fix it.

Traffic light (green)About the foundation though, remember to look carefully. A foundation that feels unstable doesn’t always have to be; it might just need some adjustments. A foundation that feels stable doesn’t always have to be either; it might just not have experienced any stress yet. If you find that your current foundation is just too unstable, make sure you don’t just jump off and hope you’ll hit a different one. You might not. And if a more sturdy foundation comes up, make sure to have a close look before you swap it with your current one. Looks can deceive, and even though the one you have might feel unstable, remember that it has in fact kept you up for a while. Would be kind of sad if you swapped a perfect foundation that just needed a bit of adjustment, for one that turned out to be broken and sank the moment it hit a small bump. Reversely it would be just as sad if the one you stood on hit a bump and sank, and you had the chance to swap it out, but missed it.

So… that was my thoughts on integrity for now. Wonder if anyone will read the whole thing 😛 Anyways, do you have some thoughts on the subject? Is it important to have integrity? What shows integrity, or lack thereof? Comment section below 🙂

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. – Luke 16:10 (NKJV)