I remember a popular childhood story of a boy who would go out to a nearby bush in his village and cry out, ‘Lion, Lion! The villagers would go out to rescue him only to find out that it was a hoax, the boy had his fun for some time. Eventually, one day, the boy went out to the bush and met with a real lion. He cried out calling for help as he did in the past, but the villagers ignored him, concluding he was having fun as usual. You would agree with me that once a man’s poor conduct registers with observers, it becomes difficult to convince them that he has suddenly changed. At that point, he will begin the gradual process of trust building because integrity is a long term process built with patience and consistency.
Last Saturday, I was live on Nigerian online radio station, IASPIRE RADIO, talking #Integrity and the response I got was quite interesting. Dr Pat Utomi, who also joined the conversation via twitter, tweeted that he has evidence of brilliant people who are impoverished today because of lack of integrity.
Honesty 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. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose. We live in a world “the end justifies the means” is gradually becoming an acceptable school of thought for many.
We see sales people over-promise and under deliver, all in the name of making their quota for the month.
Politicians over promise during campaigns in order to win elections.
Applicants over exaggerate in job interviews because they desperately need a job.
Celebrities exhibit a larger-than-life flashy lifestyle on social media, in order to sell more CDs and get more shows.
Some even fake their own death, to get popular.
CEOs overstate their projected earnings because they don’t want the board of directors
to replace them.
Investors understate a company’s value in order to negotiate a lower valuation in a deal.
The list could go on and on, and most of the time, in each case the person committing the act of dishonesty believed they had a perfectly valid reason why the end result justified their lack of integrity. Dishonesty may well provide instant gratification in the moment but it most likely not last. Some people are always ready to provide examples of people without integrity who are successful and who win without ever getting caught, which creates a false perception of the path to success that one should follow. A person without integrity automatically loses their ability to be trusted as a person of integrity, which is the most valuable quality anyone can have in their life.
When people trust you, they will spread the word of that trust to at least to a few of their friends, and word of your character will spread like Ebola wildfire. The value of the trust others have in us is far beyond anything that can be measured.
What this means for entrepreneurs is that investors are willing to trust them with their money.
For employees it means that a manager or a boss is willing to trust them with additional responsibility and growth opportunities.
For companies it means customers will trust them enough to stay loyal to their brands.
For you, it means having an army of people that are willing to go the extra mile to support you because they are convinced recommending you to others will never bring damage to their own reputation of integrity. Yes, the value of the trust others have in us goes beyond anything that can be measured because it brings along with it immeasurable opportunities and limitless possibilities.
Building a reputation of integrity should begin with avoiding people who are not trustworthy; not associating or doing business with them. It is important to always realize that others pay attention to those we choose to associate with, and they will inevitably judge your character by the character of your friends. Like Bob Marley once said: The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his honesty and ability to affect those around him positively.