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“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” — Warren Buffet

Integrity is core to building trust, developing relationships and experiencing fulfillment in life. We all want it— yet it feels so unattainable. Some of us even squirm when we hear the word “integrity.” It can remind us of a parental finger pointing in our direction or a colleague condemning us from a spirit of self-righteousness.

Most of us know that a perfect standard of integrity eludes us, but a respectable level of integrity is obtainable. Let’s start with an important premise—integrity is not something we can attain by following a set of external rules. Integrity must come from within our core before it can impact the world around us in a positive way. Adjusting our natural behaviors to fit external rules can only work for so long before who we really are shows through to the surface.

Integrity is an inside-out process. Think about the integrity of a building. Two buildings can look equally good to the human eye, yet one may be built with sturdy materials and a precisely designed architectural plan while the other is built with synthetic materials and architectural imprecision. Over time, the first will endure, but the second will collapse.

In the same way, what we are made of at our core determines the integrity of our person. Just like the building, our integrity runs much deeper than what is seen from the outside. Outcomes on the outside are simply indicators of what lies beneath. For example, where we see long-term relational health, reliability in commitments, and serving the best interest of others, we observe personal integrity. On the other hand, chronic relational fallouts, routine mismanagement of commitments, and repetitive self-centered actions point to compromised personal integrity. These are symptoms, but it’s important for us to remember that what we observe is not the foundation of integrity; the origin runs much deeper.

The following diagram provides a Blueprint in the building of our person:
New Picture (6)
Source: Excerpt from ”The Blueprint” (page 190) by Diane Kucala

Behavioral Cues to Our Personal Blueprint

These are simple (but not easy) steps to identifying the strong and weak aspects of your Personal Blueprint. Let’s reverse engineer your desired outcome. Try this:

1. Identify the aspects of life (outcomes and behaviors) that bring fulfillment and those that repetitively result in dissatisfaction and/or disappointment.
2. Think of one specific example of that outcome/behavior.
3. What was the impact? In other words, what happened as a result?
4. What behavior(s) did you choose? How well did that work for you? For others?
5. What emotions did you experience?
6. What were your primary thoughts about the situation before you acted? What assumptions were made? What alternative thoughts could you have considered?
7. What values and beliefs played into the thoughts you experienced. Did you act out of your core values and beliefs? Or, did you concede to external pressures, fears, worries, or ideas?

Integrity originates in the values and beliefs we hold. If we value people and believe in their inherent worth, we will behave quite differently than someone who believes people are to be used for personal benefit and advantage. If we value reliability and believe that our yes means yes regardless of the sacrifice, we will behave much differently than if we conclude that a commitment can be broken if a better opportunity comes along. If we value others as ourselves and believe our mission is to serve in the world, we will behave much differently than if we seek to satisfy our own needs and mission in life.

What we value and believe drives our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes in the world. The secret to building a life of integrity begins with a willingness to look deep within our inner core and determine what we actually value and believe. Once this honest assessment of oneself has been done, personal goals can be aligned and built with strength and durability.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” – C.S. Lewis

Worldwide Copyright TJ Associates, LLC Diane Kucala, July 2012

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