I really like this Blog post that Ray Edwards sent me. He has given me permission to share it with you, so I hope you enjoy it.
I hope it will make you think a bit about how you live your life and how you run your business.
“Honesty in little things is no little thing.” – Anonymous
On August 1, 2007, the westbound bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis on Interstate 35 collapsed under the weight of the evening rush hour traffic, killing 13 and injuring 145. This tragedy occurred due to a flaw in the bridge’s design. Other bridges have failed for a variety of other reasons.
When we speak of a bridge’s ability to bear up under weight and weather storms, we refer to its “integrity.” In terms of the integrity of a bridge, three primary factors come to mind:
This article is not about the integrity of bridges, but about our integrity. A bridge simply offers a good analogy. With that in mind, we could ask the same questions of ourselves and our businesses. Let’s look at each of these questions and warning signs that our integrity is in jeopardy:
1. Are we safe?
That is, do others perceive us as safe? Zig Ziglar said, “With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” It is also true that when we have integrity, others—our customers, our employees, our colleagues—have nothing to fear. They know we’ll do the right thing. They’re not afraid that we’ll take advantage of them. Integrity is consistency of character.
There’s a common perception around integrity that we should “let our conscience be our guide.” The problem is that our conscience is not infallible. We can distort and damage our conscience through rationalization, compromise, bad counsel, and poor habits. That’s why, when someone builds a bridge, someone other than the builder must inspect it. To ensure that our conscience is properly calibrated and conditioned, we need outside feedback. We need a standard beyond ourselves.
Joyce Meyer said it well, “Integrity means that you are the same in public as you are in private.” If this is not true of us, then it serves as a warning. Integrity is chiefly a heart issue, which then expresses itself in our attitudes and behaviors. Integrity must either find footing in the core of our being, or the foundation of our personal life and business will be flimsy and faulty.
2. Are we functional?
Bridges open new opportunities for commerce and travel. Bridges make things possible that would not have otherwise been feasible. To what extent does our business fulfill a worthwhile, valuable purpose for others? This might seem like a “no-brainer” question, but many businesses that begin right, devolve into something more self-serving than providing a needed product or service for others.
Scott Hamilton said, “The high road is always respected. Honesty and integrity are always rewarded.” People do business with those they know, like and trust. Build your business with integrity that people will come to rely on. Integrity always has others in the forefront of its motives and actions. We must ensure that our business is designed around our customers rather than what’s most comfortable for us and we must provide them real, tangible value.
3. Are we aesthetically pleasing?
The aesthetic side of integrity seems the least important. After all, “appearances are deceiving.” But that’s exactly the point. We DO pay attention to the way things look; the way they appear. If a bridge doesn’t look safe, we will avoid it. If you’ve ever crossed a rope bridge suspended over a deep ravine or river you know what I mean.
But there’s more to the aesthetic side of bridges—and integrity. In one sense, it doesn’t matter what a bridge looks like as long as it is safe and transports us from one place to the next. We could say the same for our business. But then there are bridges that are truly beautiful. Their design exudes safety and security. We’re drawn to the beauty of their structure and may even visit them for no other reason than to cross the bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge and the London Bridge both come to mind as examples.
The aesthetic side of integrity is what people see and experience when they do business with us. We may have a great product or service to offer, but what is the customer experience when dealing with us?
Hopefully, they are pleased and tell others what a great company we are to do business with.
Integrity involves more than telling the truth. Integrity is consistency of character, built on a firm foundation beyond ourselves. Our integrity will express itself in ways that make people feel safe and cared for. Integrity adorns our business as a thing of beauty.
Dwight Grant is a seasoned businessman with over 30 years of leadership experience. He lives in CO where he enjoys whitewater rafting, mountain biking and spending time with family.