Building Your Integrity: Four Practical Steps
Integrity is the impetus of your character. It is that pivot on which every other of your value finds its balance. You are a good person or bad person depending on your how much you carry your integrity. Thus, one can say that he/she is a responsible person or a person of character depending on his level, of integrity. Integrity is not a onetime attitude, rather, a consistent pattern of behaviour. You cannot claim to be a person of integrity just by performing one good act.
Integrity, just like the character is not the same as reputation. While the latter is people’s opinion about you, the former is who really you are. Your integrity is not the same as your accomplishments or even your success. It is about who really you are in secret and in public, not just a public view of you.
Practical Steps to Building Integrity
A person desiring to build his/her integrity must take it seriously and follow the steps below.
The story is told of Diogenes who went about with a lit candle in search of an honest person. We were not told if he was able to meet one or not. One of the prayers of Blaise Paschal is that God will grant him the grace of meeting three honest men in a century. We also were not told if he met them or not. The bottom line is that truth has become a rare commodity in our society.
To be honest with others, we just have to be honest with ourselves. We need to be true to who really we are, for that is when we can understand our areas of growth. You can observe the level of honesty you work with if you examine your daily activity, your reactions and responses. It is when we are honest with ourselves that we will able to tell ourselves how really we are. This then will be a stepping stone towards becoming a better person. When you tell your self honestly that you cheat on people and that it’s a very bad attitude, then you will have the desire to begin to make amends gradually. The terrible person is the one who sees no wrong in the fact that he/she cheats. Or one who tries to be hypocritical about it, painting a picture of what he/she is not. For us Christians, honesty should be our rule of life. The holy writ reminds us that “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are trustworthy” (Prov. 12:22, NIV).
Our society is decaying by day and night because we lack men and women of integrity who value their words more than their pocket. Who do not speak from both sides of their lips but who are honest in politics, honest in marital fidelity, honest in business and understand that integrity is what makes a man (woman).
Determine your Values
When you become honest with yourself, the next thing is to determine your five most important values. Those things you can stake your life for; those values you hold so dearly. This is important because that determines your personality and what you can live for.
Determine them and organize them in their order of priority. From the first to the last of the five. This will help you to choose the highest value when you are faced with the dilemma of making choice between one and another. Then guide these your values very carefully. Apply them in your leadership positions. Apply them, in your business and job. Your consumers will know you for those values and that will give them the confidence when they want to deal with you. You will become a person of integrity and identical to those values when it becomes a consistent way of life for you and your business venture. People could see and say, “O he’s an honest seller”, “That man sells original shoes”. As a businessman/woman you will realize that you will sell more when customers perceive you as a person of integrity, who will keep to his/her values rather than accumulate ill wealth.
Get a Role Model
At times having a role model helps us to work towards a goal. You can read about the lives of Saints – Anthony, Maria Goretti, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas and the rest. There are models in the Scripture like Jesus, Noah, Daniel, Judith, Sussana, the Apostles, Paul, etc. You can look around in the society and study the lives of Florence Nightingale, Alexander the Great, Sam Mbakwe, Mbonu Ojike, Fela Kuti, Dora Akunyili, etc. study their areas of integrity and how it helped them to change the world around them. As you study them, think of how you can apply some of their principles in your life. Allow them to advise you in times of moral dilemma and gain insights from them in developing yourself.
Understand the Psychology of Human Behaviour
This is a very important strategy that you can adopt in building your integrity. Our basic psychology shows us that when we feel in a particular way, we will act in a manner that is ad rem to that feeling. For instance, if you feel angry, you will act out angry, if you feel happy, you will act out that joy in your heart. However, we do not always feel that positive vibe we would have loved to feel. This is where the Law of Reversibility comes in. This law means that, if you act as if you had a particular feeling like joy, your actions will tilt towards acts that show that you are joyful. That means you can fake it until you make it.
You become courageous by acting as a courageous person. You become a person of integrity and honesty by acting as an honest person. The consistent acting of such will create a mental structure in the person that will form that habit of honesty and integrity in such a person. In that way, you fake yourself into becoming that thing you want to be. Remember that building your integrity is what no one can do for you, but yourself.
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