Elements of Integrity
In our society today, there are many qualities that are known to be admired. Someone who possesses these qualities may be known as a leader, someone trustworthy, or simply a friend. One of these qualities is integrity. Integrity could be defined multiple ways, especially if numerous people were asked. However, one common element that people typically list is honesty. While this is a part of integrity, it actually possesses a much deeper meaning. For example, a person of integrity is also full of consistency, truthfulness, responsibility, and they also recognize the impact of their actions. Along with these sub-qualities, a person cannot simply have integrity, but must also possess multiple other qualities to be considered admirable. Two of which are humility and patience. Humility is a character trait which is so often ignored in today’s society, but it is arguably one of the most important traits a person can have. Following humility is patience. Someone who can see another’s weak point and yet still has the patience to help them learn is rare. While integrity is essential in high positions, without the others, means nothing.
Because integrity is built up of multiple other traits, it will first be broken down into chunks, and then viewed as a whole. One part of integrity is consistency. If a typical person were to think about the word “consistency” what may come to mind is foods, more specifically foods that are not favored. While this is one accurate description of the word, in this essay it will be evaluated with the assumption that it means “to not vary over time in actions, values, or beliefs”. Before explaining the deeper, more personal meaning of consistency in values and beliefs, first actions will be described.
Actions are much more powerful than many people realize. Yet, ironically, humans have an amazing, or horrific, ability to forget over time. Then again, some actions can never be forgotten. That being said, a person’s actions leave marks on wherever they have been, on whatever path they have crossed, and that same person has the ability to decide to leave a positive, negative, or neutral impression on the world around them. Actions are not simply the movement of the body. They also include body language and speech. The result of these “actions” can rarely be determined, and when it involves members of society, the unknown result multiplies exponentially. This is simply one example of why people, no matter their position in life, should be constantly aware of one’s own actions.
Going further inward from actions comes values. Those who do not have a strong understanding of what values and beliefs are may think they are the same thing. However, these two portions of consistency have quite different meanings. Values are important personal ideas. These play a large role in consistency because whatever a person’s values are, this is where their actions come from. For example, while one person may value effort, another may have no value in respect. What this could look like for the first example, is a person putting in extra hours at work, or taking the time to make an assignment as perfect as possible, while the second example would have a person treating others with rude manners or a refusal to give attention to someone who should be in high regard. This is simply one look into how values, especially strong, core values, influence the consistency of our actions, and thus lead to integrity.
Just as values play into the consistency of our actions, beliefs can have a similar effect, while being different in its entirety. Beliefs, even though are typically thought of as being related to religion, and while this is true, it also is an element of confidence in something to be personally thought of as truth. The difference between values and beliefs is that a value is an important personal idea and a belief is something closer to oneself which is never thought to be false. Thus, beliefs have the ability to impact actions, perhaps with more consistency, because of this deep trust in an idea or concept. So, as mentioned earlier, though beliefs and values are different, both have an effect on actions or opinions and when acted upon true to oneself, show true consistency.
Moving through traits that make up integrity, following consistency is truthfulness. This could be described as simply as the peace of mind knowing a person can trust another’s word. Going further, it includes refrain from gossip and the spread of rumors, whether or not they are considered “the truth”. This is especially critical in family life and the work place. Though someone may be spreading the “truth” if it attempts to have the ability to change another’s perspective of an outside person, is this actually truthful? Further, though the truth should always be spoken in order to be considered a person of unwavering integrity, a person full of truthfulness is honest enough to admit to mistakes. Someone whom values the truth, and then expects others to tell the truth, is also the first to admit to wrong doings. A truthful person, is still a person, that is, human, and knows that mistakes are inevitable; it is simply the result of living in this world. To continue, it is essential for society to understand that despite the fact that it is possible to be human and be truthful, truthfulness and humanness are not equal. What this means is that as humans, people in society have the ability to be truthful, and everyone has the free will to decide to be truthful or the opposite, dishonest. But, this does not equate truthfulness and humanness. This is because humans are imperfect, they are flawed. Truthfulness is complete perfection, and there is nothing in society or on our earth which is truly perfect. So, conclusively, a person can be truthful, and have integrity, but someone who is sincerely truthful understands the fact that faults are the reality of life.
To recap, a person of integrity not only is consistent and truthful, but is also responsible. Similarly to the above characteristics, responsibility is yet another trait which is admired. A person who can take ownership of their own actions, is truthful, and can be consistent, and is thus a person of integrity. A member of society who is known for being responsible is one who is reliable to respond with truth. They are remembered for being trustworthy, not simply in daily matters, but more importantly in explaining one’s own obligations or mistakes. Additionally a person who is responsible is accountable. Someone who has integrity can not only be trusted for their words, but can be known for taking account of their own actions. Those who have this quality of being liable is one who people in the community turn to for help or advice. Being accountable is a relief to many whom interact on the basis of important matters. Responsibility is still not the end of a summary of integrity, while it could continue on there is just one last character trait that will be touched in this essay; awareness.
Similarly to some descriptions discussed above, awareness is another specific quality that makes up integrity. To have awareness means that a person can recognize the impacts of one’s own actions. It means to be conscious of someone’s own abilities, faults, strengths and weaknesses, and to know the limitations, and aspirations concerning their own life. This leads into the significance of being mindful of personal behaviors. Connecting with an earlier portion of the essay, actions leave results, and it is the same with behaviors. Behaviors are how a person functions, it is quite simply the way someone behaves. One’s behaviors shows very plainly how well, or how poorly, they can conduct themselves. Being able to recognize how personal behaviors can influence those in the community or work force is a skill which requires humility, as mentioned earlier, and authenticity. No one has the ability to be consistent, truthful, responsible, aware, or more straightforward with integrity without being authentic. Simply put, someone who is authentic in these areas is real. They know the reality of being human and all the excellences and burdens that that entails. It is impossible to be truly filled with integrity and act as an imitation. An awareness of the level of authenticity is what leaves a person knowing their amount of realness, humanness, and even integrity.
To summarize, integrity cannot simply be described as “honesty”. It is uniformity in actions, values, and beliefs that align in truthful knowledge of one’s own humanness. Integrity is showing responsibility by taking charge of one’s own actions and presenting individual awareness of these personal elements. Despite the fact that integrity is a trait of high value, without accompanying attributes, a person would not have the ability to be truly worthy of respect.
In today’s society, humility can be mistaken for shyness or meekness. However, in actual fact, it is humbleness, or actions of selflessness. That is putting others above a person’s own wants or needs, and meeting the necessities of those whom surround an individual. It is the viewing of personal needs as less important than others. Being humble is like one element of integrity, it is knowing the limitations of ones’ self and recognize the importance of being conscientious. Humility is an essential quality of a leader in society or work. Being aloof only creates distance between one’s self and those around an individual. Someone who shows qualities of humility is quick to forgive, as they know there is none who is perfect. Acting in humility presents opportunities to perform as a peacemaker when conflicts arise. Further, this quality not only serves others, but also shows respect where respect is due; in every single individual despite the circumstances. It is becoming the higher person, while simultaneously lowering themselves. This complex characteristic is exactly the reason behind the admiration of successful leaders.
Although humility is one of the most critical character traits a person can have, without patience, those practicing humility will be continue to be greatly lacking. Patience is the element which makes certain members of society pleasant and enjoyable to be with. Those who have learned how to show patience without hidden disgust or insincerity, are truly commendable. Albeit patience means to wait without grumbling or anger, it also is showing endurance and accepting certain situations for what they are. The main idea behind patience is actually a change of heart. When the heart is truly patient, then enduring or waiting for an appropriate time is simple and effortless. In addition to this, patience, along with definitions from earlier, can be seen as a way to forgive. To have patience with one’s self and with others requires the ability to wait and repeat an effort. Simply, it is knowing that everyone makes mistakes and thus requires opportunities to start again. In reality, all leading back to what it means to have genuine integrity.
Honesty and integrity are about as equal as Truthfulness and humanness. Integrity cannot be simplified down to the word “honesty” but must be fully understood before there can be a change to today’s society. Integrity is built up of multiple elements, including consistency, truthfulness, responsibility, and awareness. A person of integrity is honorable. An individual who fully grasps the rudiments of integrity will then have the understanding of humanness, and its unavoidable effects. This is where truthfulness is such a critical portion of what makes a person full of integrity. Being truthful is essentially the recognition of humanity, plainly, the inescapable reality of mistakes. Even as integrity is a necessity in an even remotely trustworthy individual, its worth is insignificant without the accompaniment of other qualities of high significance, including honesty and patience. Together the three can help create a member of society who can show leadership and begin to leave a positive impact on the world around them.