I have been working for fourteen years now. ‘What’s that?’ You say. ‘You’re not even thirty yet?’ It is true though. I have worked consistently since I was sixteen years old when I was able to apply for my working permit. Yes, I am counting the waitress and cashier jobs at the pizzeria and the bagel shop – all work counts as experience. These jobs were my core foundation in customer service and the very principles I still hold onto today. Simple tried and true principles like courtesy and respect… From day one, you are honing skills if you are paying attention and applying them.
Thirteen of these years have been spent in offices. And, fortunately, I have had the opportunity to start my career with extraordinarily good people and upright companies. These leaders of the profit and non-profit worlds have demonstrated the meaning of integrity in the everyday. Sure there are always moments of frustration, mistakes abound, people have power trips… but what was ingrained in me was a deep sense of right and wrong in the workplace.
I can’t pinpoint the very moment when I started to realize that my work experiences were something of an exception to the rule. It’s probably been in the last few years though. My more recent perception has been that there is a real absence of integrity “out there” so much so that it hardens you up a bit. You have to toughen up and look at others through different lenses. I am still a proponent of reserving judgments at least until you’ve gathered a good deal of information and experience with another human being. On the other hand, in often quick and dirty business exchanges, you have to set your lenses to ones of caution.
We are conditioned not to trust. We are expecting insincerity and deceit. And in that regard, we wield our own virtual spears of insincerity and lack of integrity. But, the eternal optimist that I am, I still believe in the inherent goodness of others.
Lately, I have been listening to my audio book of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (for more on Stephen Covey – go here.) There is a reason why Stephen Covey has something of a cult following. It’s because his advice resonates with what we all know to be true. Call me new-agey if you’d like. But I believe we are on the cusp of a societal shift. I would like to see it shift to one where principles like integrity are seen as the norm and not the exception. I would like to see it shift so that people treat each other with more heart and less caution and disdain. I’d like to see us dream big.
That’s my two cents on integrity. Please pray for Haiti and donate as generously as you can. God bless.