Are truth and integrity still a thing these days? One look at the news and social media, and it’s easy to think the world has become a rat race for one-upmanship. People left and right tell half-truths, white lies, and outright lies just to further their agenda. And society seems to be okay with it. That puts ordinary men, like the readers of Good Men Project, at a crossroads. Is practicing truthfulness and integrity still a good thing? Or does it put you at a disadvantage in life and business?
Let’s take a closer look at integrity in a man’s life, and why it might actually be the most important virtue to work towards.
Integrity in Life and Business
When it comes to personal relationships, truthfulness and integrity is definitely important. In fact, it’s expected—lie to someone, and that person will probably never want anything to do with you again. But even then, there are “exceptions” when we convince ourselves it’s “okay” to be untruthful. How many times have we spared someone’s feelings by sugarcoating the truth? How many times have we let offenses, minor or major, “slide”? In business, the range of situations where it’s “okay” to be untruthful dramatically increases. In the corporate world, there’s no imperative to be truthful and forthright—all you need to do is to say what needs to be said, whether it’s truthful or not, just to keep things moving forward. So is practicing integrity really worth it? Or is it an antiquated virtue that has lost in place in modern society? Here’s why I believe integrity needs a place in society now, more than ever…
Integrity as a Mission, Not a Commodity
Too often in the corporate world, integrity and truthfulness is being used as a commodity or selling point. Some people believe that CSR, for instance, is really nothing more than a means to escape certain taxes. Integrity has become a means to an end, with that end being a bigger bottom line. But even then, integrity as a commodity still produces a net positive for the world. You see communities growing, kids graduating college, industries growing sustainably, people finding jobs, and so on. There’s absolute value in integrity, even when it’s used as a commodity. That absolute value grows tremendously when integrity is practiced, not as a commodity, but as a personal or corporate mission. That is—when you practice integrity because that’s who you are, regardless of what your goals are or what the immediate outcome is—it has an even more profound positive effect on the world.
For instance, let’s take an uncomfortable situation where we’d normally NOT be 100% truthful —such as when we have to fire an unproductive employee, or complain about the service at a restaurant, or explain to a client why a project failed or is running behind schedule. Telling the truth in these situations might hurt some feelings and strain some relationships. But ultimately, the absolute value is there: The fired employee learns his lesson, the restaurant corrects its mistakes, and the client either proposes adjustments or leaves to find a company that better suits their needs. If you didn’t tell the truth – then everyone continues to suffer through the bad performance, service, and relationship.
Have Integrity, Even if it Doesn’t Pay
… because in truth, it WILL pay off down the line. Your life will get better, the lives of the people you be truthful with will get better… and if you’re a spiritual guy like me, your integrity and high standards is definitely going to have positive consequences which will lead to a better life!
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