by Craig Kitch –

I read a great story about President Dwight D. Eisenhower, relayed by one of his staff members. Apparently the Eisenhower cabinet had been in a tussle over a difficult decision. Each of the cabinet officers argued the subject endlessly from his perspective. The secretary of defense argued that if his idea were not implemented, it would damage national security. The secretary of state argued a point that would protect foreign policy. The secretary of the treasury was concerned about financial implications. Finally, a red-faced President Eisenhower asked: “Well, what’s the right thing to do?” To that, one of the cabinet members said: Well, the right thing would be thus and such, to which all of the cabinet members agreed. The president made his decision and the press was notified.

Being counted on to do the right thing means something else as well. It means you have integrity. My definition of integrity is: “what you do in a morally tempting situation when you are certain that no one is watching you”. You know the kind of situation I mean. You find an envelope or wallet with a lot of money in it and there is absolutely nobody around but you. What do you do? Do you keep the cash or turn it in at the nearest police station so that the rightful owner has a chance to get it back? Or how about one that strikes a little closer to home: you get an extra $5 bill back from the cashier because she miscounted your change. Do you correct her mistake and return the money or do you quietly celebrate your little windfall on your way out the door.

How you react to these, and similar situations, is the true barometer of your personal integrity. Integrity should be such a valuable possession that you desire to protect it at all cost. When you are known as a person who can be counted on to do the right thing, you will continually build trust with your associates and customers. Can your employer count on the fact that you are giving 100% effort to your job when you are not being watched, or are you chatting about your personal life with other staff members? Are you working diligently to complete a project on time, or are you surfing the Internet while no one is looking? Can your customers count on that fact that you are looking out for their best interests, or do you see them only as a revenue source to be milked for all they’re worth?

We have all heard (and most of us agree) that honesty is the best policy. But do we really live our lives that way? I encourage you to live your life to the fullest and become known as a person of uncompromising integrity. Be so trustworthy that no one will ever be able to challenge your honesty, and you will never have to defend it. Do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do.

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
–Norman Schwarzkopf