Thursday, December 24, 2009

Integrity Instead of Elves - My Christmas Message

Responsibility and Integrity.  They are pretty big words.  You might think the day before Christmas I would turn my thoughts to elves and Santa.  Believe me there has been plenty of that around my house.  I was struck however by some recent events which reminded me why responsibility and integrity are so important.

In our day the simple act of doing what you said you would do is becoming rare.  Making "promises" is a common occurrence, unfortunately breaking those promises is almost as common.  We don't really expect people to do what they tell us, and that is sad.

Integrity is defined differently by many people.  I am sure there are philosophy books dedicated to just that one word.  I looked it up in the dictionary and a very interesting definition caught my attention.  It said integrity was incorruptibility, soundness, completeness and honesty.  That sounds like a very tough standard to meet.  I would say personal integrity is doing what you say you will do, even when it is hard.  I think it also means doing what you know to be right, even if it isn't in your best interest.

There have been days when I have not lived up to this definition, I am sure there are days when everyone fails this standard.  The question is, do you try?  When people think of you do they know you will do what you say or do they assume you will bail at the last minute?  Do they know you will do what is right, or do they assume you will do what is in your own best interest.

Not to get morbid on Christmas Eve, but what legacy will you leave?  Do you remember that old pizza commercial, "What's on your Tombstone?"  Will yours say "Honest, Hard Working, Dedicated and Thoughtful" or will it say, "Too Many Unfinished Promises?"

I am sure you are all wondering why I brought this up right now.  There are many reasons, one of which is the craziness of the holidays.  During the times when we are busiest do we forget our integrity?  Do we forget our promises and responsibilities?  I hope not.

Being on the receiving end of those without integrity, as I previously defined it, can be frustrating.  It is hard not to take it personally when a person fails a promise given.  This is true in friendship, customer service and especially family.  Somewhere inside we wonder if we were just not important enough to that person.  If they cared about us, would they not do what they said?

There is a responsibility to our friends, customers, co-workers, employees and especially family to be who we say we are, to follow through on the promises we make and to complete the actions we start.  I think the simple (but profoundly difficult) addition of integrity in our lives would change the world faster than all the wars, laws, peace accords and treaties the world has ever seen.

Integrity may be the personal step we can take towards Peace on Earth, which brings me back to Christmas.  There were no elves in today's blog, but maybe that's okay. I would rather have Good Will Towards Men than an elf any day.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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