I know you have all heard it before. "That guy has absolutely no integrity," or "that company has no integrity," or "I value my integrity the most." Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but most of you probably have no idea what integrity even is. It is like one of those ubiquitous label words that everyone uses but nobody knows what it means, like hipster or culture.
To some it means honesty. "If you lie, then you have no integrity." To others it means showing up on time. "If you make a plan, then have the integrity to keep it." And still, to others it means having balls. "He didn't even have the integrity to fire me face to face." So in my confused exhaustion and feeling somehow that my integrity has been slightly compromised in a recent incident, I decided to hunt for the meaning of the word. I started where everyone should start such a journey, the dictionary.
in·teg·ri·ty (inˈteɡrədē/) noun
1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.
2. The state of being whole and undivided.
So, in order to define integrity we have to define moral "uprightness", which kind of reminds me of a tight ass pastor who preaches the good word by light and beats the devil out of his daughter at night. Not the kind of integrity I was thinking of. Strike one.
I went to the second definition and therein found my key to clarity. The state of being whole. The state of being undivided. Ahh.
To be whole, as in to be holy, as in to adhere to the word of God, as in to listen to one's own voice, as in to listen to one's own word, as in to undivide that which is divided, as in to connect the heart with the mind, as in to listen to the heart, as in to be undivided in mind and spirit. A building has integrity if it has a sound foundation. A relationship has integrity if it has honesty and transparency. A business has integrity if it is built upon the backs of those who listen deeply to their own heart, obey their own sense of what is right and protect what they know need to be protected.
Things to think about - Are you protecting your integrity? How do we do that in business culture? Why does it matter?