Integrity seems like an easy concept to grasp, but why do many of us struggle with it? We know the difference between right and wrong, but when it comes to the crunch many of us fail.
On Friday, May 22, actress Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli pleaded guilty to charges of fraud stemming from the college admission cheating scandal, admitting they scammed their two daughters’ way into USC with lies, staged photographs, and bribes.
The couple is among other famous Hollywood stars, CEOs, college coaches, and university officials who took part in the schemes. This involved cheating on college entrance exams, access to the schools through exclusive private doors, and falsely posing as athletes.
The consequences of this scam are deeper than just sneaking a few students into elite universities. Many are questioning the integrity of all parties involved and are frustrated that students who have committed genuine time and effort could have been denied the opportunities they have worked so hard to earn.
Scandals like these are so telling because they remind us of how important integrity is. Integrity is moral uprightness; it’s being honest and living according to strong moral principles in public and in private.
Integrity is moral uprightness; it’s being honest and living according to strong moral principles in public and in private.
Speak to any leader of an organization, and they will tell you that honesty and integrity are the most important values because they’re the foundation of your personal and public identity. For example, Jon Huntsman, Sr. is a multi-billionaire who started a chemical company from scratch and grew it into a $12 billion enterprise. In his book, Winners Never Cheat, Huntsman says that he steadfastly refused to compromise his principles and that his integrity is the reason he has been as successful as he is.
“There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business or life,” Hunstman writes. “There are, basically, three kinds of people, the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.”
Protect Your Integrity
While most of us are not Hollywood stars or multi-billionaire executives, we can still relate to integrity and how we’re tempted to cheat or cut corners in everyday life. How do we protect ourselves from falling victim to this?
1. Have a Strong Moral Character.
The key to a happy and successful life is to have a strong moral character. That means you know who you are. You know your beliefs, morals, and values, and your actions reflect this. Your inner and outer worlds match.
There are no moral shortcuts in the game of business or life.
2. Practice Healthy Accountability.
It’s good to have friends and family who will hold you accountable. They can help to encourage and motivate you or call you out on things you’ve done wrong. Without personal accountability, it’s too easy to compromise your integrity, justifying little slips until they become acceptable in your self-judgment.
3. Reputation Is Everything.
The last way to protect yourself is to think about your reputation. What would happen if you were caught cheating or taking shortcuts? Your reputation could be ruined instantly. All those years of hard work and building a name for yourself can be shattered from one poor judgment where you compromised your integrity. It’s always going to be tempting to take the risk for an easy win, but it’s unlikely you will enjoy your victory when you know you broke your rules to get there. It can eat you up from the inside and numb your achievements. Reputation is everything, so guard it with your life.
It’s always going to be tempting to take the risk for an easy win, but it’s unlikely you will enjoy your victory when you know you broke your rules to get there.
Integrity is the glue that binds everything together. It’s a form of discipline that needs to be practiced daily. Integrity leads to trust, success, and victory, but choices made without it can lead to doom. Think of all the famous people who have tarnished their image and destroyed legacies because they gave into temptation. Was it worth it in the end?