While home at Thanksgiving I helped my Dad clean out some boxes from the family company that closed in 2006. For 50+ years my Grandfather, Dad and his siblings built a wholesale lumber business that provided for five families. It was a business built on strong values, customer service and doing what’s right.
Most of the contents in the boxes were office paper work, some dating back to before I was born. It was nostalgic to read about day-to-day activities of the family business in the 50’s and early 60’s.
The most powerful moment was when I opened a folder and saw my Grandfather’s obituary. He died on January 5, 1981. The headline reads, “His lumber firm built on honesty.”
Honesty described my grandfather. Another word comes to mind when I think of him is integrity. As I re-read the obituary and reflected on my memories, I wondered, do I always act with integrity like he did?
Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness
What does integrity in action look like today?
Does it mean always acting in a certain manner regardless of the cost or impact?
Does it mean trying to do right by people most of the time?
Does it mean sacrificing your desires for the betterment of the whole?
In my work for America’s dairy farm families, one of our company values is integrity.
Everyone has their version of integrity. Here’s mine:
Integrity is a personal life choice to act in a way that respects a variety of opinions and options and upholds what is right in the chosen action.
“What is right…” By who’s standards? Mine, societies? For me it’s by my moral compass. The moral compass is shaped early in life. It is that voice inside us that we don’t always listen to but should.
For me, integrity DOES mean sacrificing my desires sometimes and treating others with respect despite differences of opinion. It DOESN’T mean always acting in a certain manner regardless of the impact because the impact can negate the direction of the moral compass.
Integrity accurately described my Grandfather and he instilled this virtue in my Dad and his siblings. When the business was closing up, partially to external factors that were horribly unjust, my Dad acted with integrity every step of the way. It wasn’t easy to watch the company close and he felt the weight of responsibility as the oldest of the kids. It tortured me but it also reinforced my steadfast belief that integrity is one of the most important characteristics we should embrace as humans.
Here are some people I know personally that embody the word integrity.
Patrick Doyle and Lynne Liddle from Domino’s Pizza. Ok, their culture exudes integrity so I could add many more Domino’s team members to this list. Remember how they handled the unfortunate action of a couple employees a few years back?
Jean Ragalie-Carr, President National Dairy Council. She always puts the farmer’s first and practices what it means to do the right thing.
My parents. Anytime life challenged them, they acted with integrity.
Others who make my list include Arnold Palmer, any coach who benches the star player that broke the rules, Malala Yousafzai, the average citizen who buys a homeless person a hot meal, void of judgment. Pope Francis makes my list as well.
In 2015, living the virtue of integrity will remain at the top of my “must do” list. I’ll succeed and fail for certain. The balance will be on success.
Who’s on your integrity list? Where have you seen integrity in action?
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