Recently, I had an interesting conversation with my father-in-law. In his previous career, he served as a Regional Safety Director for a large corporation. Safety was his top priority and along with the job, he had the opportunity to attend numerous conferences and upper-management training events. He shared with me an interesting story about one conference in particular. It was a unique encounter that really made an impact on him. The event changed how he viewed safety and his role at the company.
The presenter was speaking to a room full of managers when he asked, “Is safety your top priority?”
Well, that was an easy question. Soon, “Yes’s” echoed through the auditorium.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Safety should never be a priority.”
The audience was silent. Waiting for some kind of follow up… The speaker continued, “Safety is our culture. It should never become a priority. If its a priority then it is on a list with 20 other priorities. One day that list will change. Some other high priority will move to the top.”
Some people might say that the speaker was just being clever.
I disagree. I think the speaker was absolutely right. Priorities are important and they are on lists. Safety should be woven into the fabric of the organization. The same could be said about personal integrity. If we make it a priority then it will go a list. While it may be at or near the top that is not the same as it being woven into your being.
Make a point to do what you say and say what you do. Don’t prioritize it. Simply, make it happen. Organizations cannot have integrity until the individuals within that organization have integrity. You see, personal integrity comes before organizational integrity. Rules and policies work from the outside in, but personal integrity works from the inside out. There is a difference. Inside to outside is a better system. It sparks a deeper change. There is a place for rules and policy within an organization. Still, integrity must start with you. It must be who you are.
We can all agree that it is a good trait. I have yet to hear someone say, “I wish she had less integrity.” Live so that when people think of you, they think integrity. Like H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said:
“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you.”
It’s not the easiest way to live your life, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run. How do you weave integrity into your being?