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  • Writer's pictureKarl Kolb

Integrity: A Commitment

I am always pressed by integrity. My belief is that it is the most important characteristic of any human. But it is not easy to comply with its intent. Many forces define us, the situation and the person, group, organization or concept we are addressing. Integrity can be black and white, and it can also be situational. In the military, where my quest to understand integrity began with the officer’s commission which reads in part, ".... duty, honor, country...". In so many words it commits the officer to complete his mission even if it involves his or her death, at any time and place our freedoms are threatened. And, with respect to these fallen soldiers, they fulfilled their oath to the country in the ultimate. These soldiers understood integrity. I have always maintained that I would rather die on the battlefield in defense of my country than in bed as an old man.

Later, in academics I find the only rule a professor is to follow in a university setting is to have "integrity", not defined. After many years as a professor, I find many variations of this word, and sadly. We send our kids to college to be protected, educated and matured. Keep that in mind when marching them off to the prestigious halls of knowledge. It's not what happens overseas for the most part. These institutions take a different view of integrity we have some things to learn from these very serious educators.

In business I find it is not generally followed except at an individual level. And most folks follow the golden rule or never tell a lie, both biblical.

Marketing is the worst. A good example is a huge discount store that is present in every city in our nation. Every time I walk into the store the sign in the produce section reads something to effect, we buy from "local farmers". Local farmers in South America, Central America, Europe - I know better. Further, Internet, television and radio are no better. Be honest, put a disclaimer on each one of these colorful spots, "We are going to tell you half-truths, lead you astray, tell you want you want to hear and hope we can persuade you into buying something you should check out before pushing send." My hat is off to those marketers who try to get it right.

Integrity is hard to do when money is involved, money is the great deal breaker when it comes to integrity in every situation.

It is best defined in the home, and in the bible.

The rule in the High Sierra Group and CCI is integrity. "Don't lie." To me that doesn't mean to beat around the bush but be honest, straight and accountable. People don't like it - it moves them out of their comfort zone. It becomes a bit situational as it is applied to any scenario. This is what goes on in my head all the time. It matters as people judge you by your actions. I find every time I am explicit (almost "rude" as some would define it), coldly and straight-up honest, the situation is resolved. It gets easier the more practice you apply to this technique.

Integrity, what does it mean to you? For sure it is hard to be the recipient and it certainly moves one out of their comfort zone, especially as a leader. But to be honest, straight and true is hard. Anything worth doing is hard. Anything valued deserves it.

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