Building integrity over time: Becoming predictably honourable

When it comes to building character, this word that’s so hard to really define, and seems to include so many good things in it, one of the big words that often comes up is the word “integrity”.
This is a great word, nowadays usually used to mean a sense of honesty, trustworthiness.
The origin of this word is in this idea of being whole, of being held together, of being solid, in a way.
There’s a sense of having consistency.
And that’s what I think this word really brings to the whole idea of character, is with integrity, it’s about being consistent.
So, now, it doesn’t mean, you know, always doing the same thing all the time, because of course, times are going to change, each of us is going to change.
It doesn’t mean that we have to be absolutely predictable.
But it has something to do with a kind of being united over time.
If we look at our lives over time, that there’s a certain kind of reliability that’s part of being a trustworthy person, a person with integrity, that you can expect that this person will behave in certain ways.
I mean, it really does sound like saying that this person is predictable.
But maybe it’s a certain kind of limited predictability, in that a person with integrity is predictable in that it is predictable that they will act with integrity.
So that, you know, they will act in a trustworthy way.
And being trustworthy, in a way, is connected with predictability.
Not having every little thing you do be predictable, of course, but being trustworthy, if someone can rely on you and trust you, you can be expected to behave within certain boundaries of things that you will not do and you can be relied upon not to do.
Not to betray people, not to lie and cheat and steal and all these kinds of things that are about breaking trust.
When you’re a trustworthy person, in a sense it’s predictable that you will not do those things.
So what I find interesting about this idea of integrity is that it only exists over time.
There’s no idea of integrity in a moment.
Now in a moment, you can do good things, you can do bad things, you can do anything within each moment.
But to be a character of integrity, this is something that must be built up over time.
It’s a quality that extends over a long time, so that you become predictable in being trustworthy.
You become predictably honest, predictably dependable.
Now it’s hard not to say it in a way that it sounds kind of boring, because you are being predictable.
And yet it seems like there’s no way to get away from that, in that in order to be trustworthy, it has to be predictable that you will behave honourably.
If you can predictably and reliably behave honorably, then you can be seen as a trustworthy person, because people around you can predict that you will behave with honour.
So integrity is like this idea of being consistent over time, so that when you say something on one day, maybe you make a promise, you can be trusted on another day to keep it.
The alternative to integrity is you don’t have to be consistent at all.
Every single moment that comes up, you can do completely different things.
And then you make a promise one day, and another day you can say you don’t feel like it.
And you know, that’s how you felt in that moment, but it’s not how you feel in that moment.
So it’s really easy to be not integral, to not have integrity.
You simply have to change whenever you feel like it.
But having integrity seems to be about having certain established principles that you live by, that you can be counted on to live by.
And this is a character- this is something that can only be built up over time.
We can do our best in each moment to make good actions, or maybe other moments we don’t care about whether we’re making good actions or not, but to become a character of integrity, this is like building a structure, building a house, over time, through our repeated actions, where we establish that we are committed to being consistently honourable, then we start to develop this kind of glow, you could say, of integrity, where “Wow, this is a person that I can trust.” And it’s only something, it seems, that can be built up over time.
But it starts with one action, it starts with putting one action in front of another, and it starts with believing in principles that we are willing to live by no matter what.
So I’d be curious to hear what you think of this concept of integrity.
Have I captured what it’s about? What does it mean to you? And is it something that’s worth pursuing?

#integrity #character #buildcharacter

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