The Word is Integrity
  Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

 When General Dean of the U.S. army, then a prisoner of the Chinese communists in Korea, caught the rumor that he was soon to be shot by the enemy, he sat down to write to his wife.  In the letter to his wife, he asked her to convey his last words to his son, "Tell Bill that the word is integrity."  

All human beings care about integrity very much.  How?  They want everybody else to have it.  Integrity is what we look most in the other person.   Even a criminal setting about to commit a crime wants integrity in his or her accomplice.  If you join a gang, you have to be a man (or woman) of your word.  If you are not, they will kill you.  

Bosses want absolute integrity in their employees so they can rely on them.  Followers want absolute integrity in their leaders so they can depend 
on them.  And we all want our partners to have absolute integrity so we can trust them.  But, how many of us earnestly work on becoming persons of absolute integrity ourselves?  And, if everyone didn't work on perfecting his or her own integrity, how can we find it in people around us?

      When a person, lies, cheats, or uses deception, a part of him or her is destroyed.  The person's moral terracota is cracked forever.  His or her stature shrinks and the voice of conscience silenced.  The word "integrity' is derived from the Latin integer which means untouched, whole or entire.  Integrity is the state of being complete, whole or unbroken.  
One who lacks integrity has failed to mature socially and morally.  He or she has not fully learned the benefits of integrity and the long- term negative consequences of when one acts without it.  Integrity brings self-confidence and self-assurance.  A person with integrity has no moral fears.  Whenever, you have a question regarding how you should act in a given situation, let integrity be the guide and it will show you "the right way."  

In a landmark study of top executives who were successful and those who were "derailed," it was found that successful managers were more conscientious and trustworthy than the derailed managers.  The successful managers took responsibility for their mistakes and failures.  The derailed managers tried to sweep their mistakes and failures under the carpet and if it could not be denied anymore they tried to pass the buck and blamed the circumstances and other people.  

In the same study, researchers found that the successful people acted in a manner that was consistent with the principles they believed in.  Their priority was to uphold those principles and not to impress their bosses at any costs.  Thus, the successful managers built a strong and lasting foundation for themselves which was based on people's trust and respect.   

Many derailed managers earned their fifteen minutes of fame and won the popularity contest by manipulating others, but once they were exposed, they lost everything.  The successful managers, by acting in accordance with their values, at times faced adversities and criticism, but once they were understood correctly, the respect and confidence in them grew even more strongly.  

Earnest O' Lawrence, the Nobel laureate who founded the science labs at the University of California at Berkley that still bear his name, had this to say, "In scientific work, excellence is not about technical competence, but character."  

The words of Lawrence will ring true every time a scientist who has faked data or cheated in the exactness of the scientific procedures is exposed.  The once awe-inspiring work of many scientists is in the mud today and so are their names.  Why?  Because they were so driven to prove their theories that they silenced their moral voice and compromised their integrity forever.  

And so we come to the impossible-to-avoid-topic-of-our-times, the President Clinton.  Woudn't it have been better if he had admitted to himself that he had a sexual addiction and needed treatment for it?  This would have allowed him to seek the help he needed, a long time ago.  His family and trusted friends would have monitored him closely.  His addiction would not have become his character flaw.  
Instead of treating the problem, Bill (not the General Dean's son, you know who) chose to cover it through the tactics of manipulation and deception.  When problem couldn't be covered anymore, he told the nation even bigger and bolder lies.  Had Bill remembered that the word is integrity, he and the nation would've been spared the trauma our times. 

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