Do you have integrity?
It sounds like an easy question with an easy answer until you really stop to think about integrity. Most of the world lacks true integrity, but once you understand how to develop true integrity, you can stand out.
The word “integrity” comes from the Latin adjective, “integer.” In math, an integer is a whole number. Thus, integrity means whole in consistency of actions, values, principles, expectations, and outcomes. Integrity means you are the same person behind closed doors as you are at work. Integrity means you are the same person around your church friends as you are around your everyday friends. Being a person of integrity makes your life a lot easier.
Yet, most people lack integrity. There’s a fairly simple reason.
Integrity interferes with morals taught by others. You are taught to do one thing, but your instincts or heart may inspire you to do another. By day you behave one way, and by night, you behave another way. Integrity and morals are different things. You may not agree with the morals a person with integrity has, but if they are true to those morals, no matter where they are, you can say they have true integrity.
So, why do people struggle with who they are? Probably because they lack self-discipline, which, of course, comes from the word “disciple.” If you are a disciple of yourself, you hold true to the decisions you make for yourself. Disciple comes from the word “decision,” which comes from the root word “incision.” Incision means to cut off all other possibilities. People with true self-discipline know who they are and are committed to being that person no matter what because they have cut off the possibilities of being anyone else.
Most people, however, have never taken the time to figure out the person they truly are. Most people have never made a decision on their own. Instead, they have spent their entire lives allowing other people to make decisions for them. This leads us back to why people lack integrity. If you’re living your life doing things because they are what other people told you to do, chances are, you also lack integrity.
Schedule Thinking Time
If you have not yet mastered self-discipline, you need to schedule thinking time. You need to set aside at least 30 minutes or an hour each week to just think. Go to a quiet place. Leave your cell phone behind and allow yourself to think. Find answers to statements like: “I am most happy when. . .” “I am most angry when. . .” “I enjoy spending my time when. . .” “I hate spending my time when. . .” “The thing that annoys me the most about life is. . .” “The one goal I want to accomplish this week is…” “The one thing I hope to achieve in my business this month is…”
Continue to do this until you feel you have figured out who you really are. Then make a commitment to always be that person. Sure, you will change as your life changes. I am not telling you to stay the same for the next 50 years. I am simply saying, if you want to have integrity, you have to know who you are based on the terms you define. I hope this is helpful to all of you.
Living Every Minute
Dr. Tim, M.D.