In Search Of Integrity: In Which Direction Does Your Compass Point?

AS Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of BIZCATALYST360°, I’ve had the distinct privilege of “curating” over 20,000 articles to date, the vast majority of which have (by mere abundance) been focused on some form of emerging leadership challenge. The process of curating has afforded me the unique opportunity to learn firsthand and ultimately publish what’s topical, what’s relevant and what triggers the greatest response amongst readers – not just of my publication, but hundreds of publications across the globe.

From this particular “big data” vantage point, it’s become increasingly clear that “Elvis has (long ago) left the arena” when it comes to the existence of fundamental core values, such as ethics, integrity, and authenticity. Hence; my preëmptive introduction of authentegrity into the English vocabulary:

authentegrity > adv. 1 of undisputed origin or veracity; genuine. 2 the quality of having a set of morally correct values and principles. 3 proactively displaying a profound strength of character. 4 always doing the right thing, even when no one else is watching. 5 personal and professional behavior of the highest ethical standard. 6 true, real, actual, legitimate. 7 reliable, dependable, trustworthy, unadulterated. 8 generosity of spirit. 9 embracing gratitude and humility.

And it is equally apparent that when Elvis left, he may have taken with him a sizeable chunk of such values from both the leadership AND “life-ship” arena. Because as much as we may all try hard to portray a different version of ourselves at work versus at life, “who we really are” from a core values perspective ultimately surfaces, particularly in the midst of unexpected events or stressful situations. Our guard is let down, our kimono is flung open – and our true character is revealed.

What Really Matters?

We’ve heard it all before. Integrity matters. Ethics matter. Authenticity matters. Character counts. Innumerable articles centered on these “mantras” have been written in recent years, including one of my absolute favorites by Amy Reese Anderson, as published in Forbes: Success Will Come And Go, But Integrity Is Forever. As excerpted from Amy’s Article:

Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be.

No doubt many of us “do our best” to do the right thing – when it’s easy when it’s convenient, or perhaps because others are watching. But what if all four of these mantras converged into an ironclad personal code of conduct – in essence, a core value “manifesto?” What if we all actually took this manifesto to heart without exception or compromise – starting right now and continuing every waking minute of every day? Imagine the very real personal and professional impact borne of the simple act of unreservedly embracing a rare, refreshing and relentless commitment to “doing the right thing.” Imagine promises always delivered. Imagine strength of character “unplugged.” Imagine the remarkable possibilities.

One Man’s Theory

“Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be.”

Emerging from the substantive curating exercise discussed earlier is my working theory as to why essays on the topics of ethics, integrity, authenticity, and character are so popular (in terms of abundance, readership & response levels, etc.). And it’s fairly simple – The popularity is merely a reflection of a “core value vacuüm” surrounding us all. We’re increasingly cynical and untrusting by virtue of our environment. Not only do we presume the absence of character, but we’re remarkably surprised when it appears. It’s a sad commentary (and by default,  a competitive advantage) when you can readily distinguish yourself “from the rest” by way of genuine good-faith business dealings founded upon these core values.

Laying Down The Gauntlet

The Principles of Authentegrity are as simple and straightforward as they are rare these days, as evidenced by the headlines we all read and the people we come in contact with. Quoting again from Amy’s Article:

We live in a world where integrity isn’t talked about nearly enough. We live in a world where “the end justifies the means” has become an acceptable school of thought for far too many.

There’s clearly no rocket science here. Change is not only possible but without the risk of a downside. No life coaches needed. No self-help books to read. We all have the ability if coupled with the willingness and commitment to take what has, unfortunately, become the road less traveled. It’s not simply what you do, but how you do it – and whether you do it on such a consistent basis that it becomes your genuine persona, or “second nature.”

So, take a moment right now to step back before you look forward to the rest of today. Take a moment to consider that we can all become “better versions” of ourselves, on both a leadership and a “life-ship” basis.

I offer that the time has come to cast aside all the reasons, excuses, and justifications for “business as usual.” I offer that the time has come to understand and embrace the fact that “success will come and go, but authentegrity is forever.” How does your current modus operandi fare against such an unbridled approach to strength of character? Take a moment now to consider your compass alongside the ten fundamental Principles of Authentegrity presented below.

____________________

“AUTHENTEGRITY” (The Principles)

  1. I am consistently honest and trustworthy.
  2. I am consistently genuine and forthright.
  3. My personal and professional behavior is of the highest ethical standard.
  4. My integrity is beyond compromise and I always do the right thing.
  5. I am consistently fair and reasonable.
  6. I am consistently respectful and considerate.
  7. I am consistently loyal and reliable.
  8. I am consistently generous with praise and constructive with criticism.
  9. I am consistently understanding, sincere and approachable.
  10. I openly express gratitude, demonstrate humility and freely share my wisdom of experience.

____________________

Yes  —Of course the bar has been set high. Why not? Call it a journey if not a destination – or simply a good-faith opportunity to step back, fine-tune your direction, and move forward with the best of intentions …

What does your compass reveal? Are you amongst the “ethical elite” or do you come up short in any respect? Now, cast aside your opinion. How would you be judged by those who know you the best – your friends, family and professional colleagues? Will they tell you – and can you handle the truth?

While each Principle noted may not be revolutionary in isolation, consider again the impact on your life if you were to consistently embrace everyone, every hour of every day – without exception, and starting right now.

This Includes Me

There are three constants in life . . . change, choice, and principles.

Honestly, it’s been a “work-in-progress” for me for many years, as I’ve learned from some of the best and some of the worst (people AND experiences) over time.  But I can attest that the challenges and the results have been positively life-changing. I’ve learned that becoming a better version of one’s self is not simply a matter of changing your direction, but positively “influencing” the direction of those around you. Perhaps it’s the (unfortunate) prevailing mindset of the world we live in, but I’ve encountered far too many people who embrace skepticism as a way of life, boldly challenging many of the principles set forth above (e.g. genuinely questioning the credibility of authenticity?). And I’ve spent far too much time defending “doing the right thing” as compared to time invested in just doing it. Hope and persistence prevail though, because every now and then when someone really “gets it”, the experience can not only be profound but the impact both remarkable and contagious.

Bottom line; no matter where you fall within the concept of Authentegrity (apologies to Mr. Webster), come along for the journey for your benefit and the benefit of those you encounter both personally and professionally. Imagine the possibilities.  Because it matters. Because you matter. Because they matter. And because in the words of Stephen Covey; “There are three constants in life . . . change, choice, and principles”.

Are you up to the challenge? For those of you who step up to the plate here, please come back and share your experience below …

Dennis J. Pitocco
Dennis J. Pitoccohttps://www.bizcatalyst360.com/
Dennis is the Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of our award-winning life, culture, and biz new media digest, With an emphasis on action, our amazing writers empower people to transcend from knowing what to do to actually doing it. Today and every day, we simply deliver the very best insights, intelligence, and inspiration available anywhere, doing it our way by placing our writers and our audience at the forefront. It's magical. It's evergreen. And quite frankly, It's just good stuff. Period. Here's more About Us. He is also Founder & Chief Encouragement Officer of GoodWorks 360°, our affiliated global nonprofit social impact enterprise, dedicated to providing mission-critical pro bono services to good nonprofits worldwide. Connect with him on Linkedin to learn more about his background. Dennis is a contributing author to the Best-Selling Book Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change.

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  1. Dennis, this is an excellent article! There is so much to think about, and I love your proposal of authentegrity. For me, I am a constant work in progress, and I try to be a good person. Like you, I’ve learned from some good and not so good experiences and people – and being able to walk away with a lesson is critical.

    The concept of authentegrity is bold and challenging, and to fall anywhere in the spectrum of principles is a good thing. We are each compelled and motivated in different ways, but indeed at the forefront should be being kind to ourselves and others. From there, I believe it is easier to embrace all the other tentacles that naturally seem to grow from it.

    You’ve given us much to think about, Dennis. Thanks for providing a new lens this morning. It is much appreciated.

    • Wonderful feedback here, Laura – indeed much to think about and the best we can do is our very best from sunrise to sundown. My personal experience is not only becoming a better version of myself over the years but by witnessing others do the same. And time and again, “doing the right thing” comes full circle with blessing beyond expectations … Your words matter, Laura – thank you!

  2. I LOVE this piece so much, Dennis! I accept the challenge! We all like to think that we have authentegrity all the time, but the true is that we’re all flawed and biased. Throw in the stressors of life and it’s impossible to be introspective all the time. We do, however, have the power to start each day with this challenge… keep it top of mind and be intentional about how we put ourselves out into the world. Thank you for sharing this one!

    • You’ve nailed here, Melissa – “starting each day with this challenge … and be intentional” … – which then sets the stage for incremental success and (in my experience) a number of #gamechanging experiences over time … Thanks for adding real value to such a timeless discussion, my friend.

  3. A string of superlatives is inadequate for this truly insightful and heartfelt piece. I firmly believe that you have given us the challenge to live authentegrity as our first nature rather than the second. And what struck me most is your striving to live up to all that you believe in. Thank you Dennis for sharing.

  4. I love the word and the principles behind it. Thank you Dennis! I think all of us must continue to strive toward these ideals laid out. By doing so, it not only creates a positive feeling within us but for those around us.?

    • A key point you’ve made here, Darlene, as “striving” underscores that it’s a work in progress/a journey. What a wonderful world it would be if we could just get everyone focused on such a journey. … Thank you for always, and I mean always engaging and adding such value …

  5. Bring it, Dennis! I am wholeheartedly there with yourself Amy, and Stephen. I feel like “authentegrity” as a credo or manifesto of living is one that schools could be teaching in their life-ship or life skills classes along with career planning and the rest of the lot of topics. This is where this gets me at a gut level that this feels like the core of living a meaningful life full of citizenship and good will towards self and others. An insightful read Dennis, and thank you for your personal reflections as well!

    • An excellent point here, Maureen. Although some may be blessed with great role models when it comes to values & principles learned at an early age, those without are left to learn them the hard way, and often after damage (reputation, character, etc.) has already been done. Given the profound effect such fundamentals can have on your life, such critical “life skills” would be an invaluable addition to our education curriculum. Thanks for adding real value here.

  6. Applying the concept of ethics to our own work depends on each of us. There are external conditions, nor any other person from whom depends our ability to exercise our role in an ethical manner. This awareness reveals our courage and importance that actually eah one attaches to this value. Everyone is responsible for how his role plays ethically. And there are so many small gestures, so many “micro-decisions” that lead us to be recognized as ethical leaders. Of this we must have profound awareness to avoid wasting energy, in what we call the apology factory, sterile research of justifications. Being an ethical leader is tiring, requires courage and tenacity, but the results you can achieve are far superior, and they have something extraordinary in themselves, so it’s worth trying.

  7. Dennis, thank you for this challenge! I hope everyone on earth ends up with A+’s! When I was about 23, I realized that if I always did what was “right” to my best ability, I would have no regrets! I wouldn’t miss out on any missed opportunities in life, and that people may want to work with me at whatever job i had at the time! What a free-ing realization! I believe in lifting others up & to let them know when i catch them doing “the right thing,” even under difficult circumstances. I do this with people who have been my leaders, my peers or were learning from me. People MATTER! Respect others. Value your level of integrity, and you will always love yourself! So impor

    I am disabled. I often break commitments to be some where or do something. I can not count on my body working effectively every day. How can I stay in integrity, if I often need to cancel things?

    May I please share this complete UPLIFTING article on FB? Thank you!

    • Please do share this Article far and wide, Traci – as the message needs to be heard – if nothing else than as a reminder that “doing the right thing” is the right thing to do. As you’ve suggested, it’s not always easy, particularly with physical challenges, so the best we can do is the very best we can do. Thanks for adding genuine value here via your personal story. And remember, You Matter, my friend…

    • Traci, your comment reminds me of reading Ken Blanchard’s books. One of his common appeals to managers was to catch people doing the right thing. Encouragement is often lacking in our society today. Every drop of encouragement has a ripple effect. Keep up the good work.

  8. Dennis…..great food for thought and as others have indicated the word Authentegrity is an excellent way to express the need for integrity within being authentic. You stated, we’re increasingly cynical and untrusting by virtue of our environment. I have had two business experiences in which those I was involved with in partnerships were cynical and untrusting in the unfolding of the potential success of the business. In hindsight, I can ascertain they were not operating from a state of authentegrity. What they said and their actions did not match, giving me red flags to consider. Another aspect was they were surrounded by others who were also cynical and untrusting. Ultimately, I removed myself from the experience, one with a hard life lesson added to my journey; the other helping me to strengthen my discernment in who I bring into my sphere of influence. It is not always easy to dodge the landmines when interacting with others, but taking into consideration what you have shared in your article, the potential for conflict/contrast can be reduced. I strive, every day, to live by your list of Principles of Authentgrity. Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

  9. Your article is honest brother Dennis and I wholeheartedly support this personal approach in all matters! I learned early on in my past law enforcement career when I was involved in the hiring process of potential police candidates is that they either had personal integrity or they did not. It is the one attribute that you cannot teach and it is also the one attribute that once you compromise could cost you your career not to mention your personal dignity. Kudos to you from retired Gumshoe Danny.

  10. Practicing the ten principles of “Authentegrity” on a daily basis is an interesting challenge Dennis.
    Certainly would make for a more wonderful (and dare I say FAIR) world – both at work and in our personal lives – if EVERYONE was adhering to and working from the very same playbook when it comes to these specific principles.
    Each of those attributes – being ethical and authentic and having integrity – are clearly defined by you (and Webster) – hence, your challenge.
    However, regardless of the clear definitions, because each attribute is a matter of PERSONAL CHOICE, more often than not, where there is choice folks tend to build in their own range of “wiggle” room for the sake of personal comfort and call it good (re: human nature).
    Taking that into consideration, when asked, I believe the majority of people would affirm they do indeed possess and live up to (their personal standard) of “authentegrity”. When asked to be judged by their friends, family, professional colleagues, as to how they stack up…I think the feedback would again be skewed to each respondents’ interpretation of the Authentegrity Principles.
    Good discussion – would genuinely like to hear more feedback from your readers!

  11. Great article, Dennis – you have laid down a challenge that needs to be ever-present in the minds of business leaders if we are to find a way out of the current malaise afflicting free market capitalism. The challenge is deadly serious, because a growing tide of anti-free market academic literature is being given greater plausibility as a result of the ethical failures fallaciously associated with capitalism. I say “fallaciously” because the ethical failures are human failures, and not systemic failures – we find people behaving badly in all systems, not least of which would be government and the bureaucracy.

  12. Authentegrity! An audacious blend of ethics, integrity, and authenticity. I love the foundation of that word. We should all strive to live by the character developed out of practicing the behaviors challenged in those 10 questions. This article is incentive to be a leader of authentegrity and be someone others want to follow.

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