The definition of integrity includes words related to honesty, principles, morals, or trust, but I think there is a more immediate version that cuts to its core:
Integrity is how you are perceived when you’re not around.
If you say you will do something, do it. If you say you will think about it, think about it. If you promise something, deliver it. This is what integrity is. Fundamentally, it is what people will remember about you when you are not there.
If you frequently cancel on friends at the last minute, you will stopped being asked to join them. If you routinely tell your customers that the project will be completed at the end of the week, but don’t deliver until Monday, you will lose their business. If you tell your spouse that you will pick up cat food on the way home and consistently forget, even though you have dozens of electronic and non-electronic means at your disposal to remind you – including a smartphone that will actually speak to you while you are en route and direct you to the pet store – then your spouse will remember you as someone who always forgets.
Well, that last example may be a bit specific and embarrassingly personal, but you get the idea.
Don’t let the last words or works that people remember you for be something negative or unfulfilled. Strive to always think, do, and repeat those thoughts and actions that help you (and others) succeed in life. I have a short list of rules (that I often fail to follow) to help me determine what stuff to keep in my life: Do I need it to survive? Does it bring joy or beauty to my life? Does it have legitimate sentimental value? If not, it goes in the trash. I’m still deciding whether or not the t-shirt from my senior year in high school that I wore to the after-prom party qualifies as “legitimate sentimental value” or not, but I’m sure the confetti from that evening does not. I try to adopt similar rules to the way I behave as well.
As the American theologian Tryon Edwards said,
Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in actions; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.
What does your destiny hold?