The Price of Integrity – The Most Important Building Block of a Successful Business and Life

by Waldo Waldman, Lt. Col. CSP

The Price of IntegrityI’m a businessperson. I deal with competitors, changing markets, client demands, and a volatile economy. I do the best I can to support my family and create a fulfilling life. Some days the mission is easy and on others, the missiles and turbulence are intense. But that’s what makes the journey exciting.

I don’t want things to be easy. I don’t like my life being safe. Safe is boring. I like knowing that when I wake up each morning, I may lose. It energizes me. It fires me up. It forces me to out prepare, out think, and out work my competition. Because I know deep down I will do whatever it takes to win. But not at all costs. Not if I have to lie, manipulate, or cheat.

Winning to me means that I may have to lose. It may not be profitable or feel good, but sometimes losing is the best path to take…the right thing to do. Truly successful people realize this. Winning, while an awesome thing, isn’t everything. It doesn’t have to come at “all costs.”

A wingman – someone who you trust implicitly – has to be willing to lose.

Today, the news is filled with examples of people who pay any price to win. They sell out to their fear of losing. They do this by sacrificing the most critical building block of a successful business and life – their integrity. Sure they win. They beat the competition, get the business and gain market share. But the price that’s paid is character and honor. The cost normally can’t be measured in dollars, but sometimes it can (i.e. Enron, Bernie Madoff, etc.)

There are many ways to define integrity. But to me, integrity means:

  • Honoring your commitments
  • Being a man or woman of your word
  • Doing the right thing (even when no-one is watching.)
  • Admitting when you mess up (and accepting the consequences.)
  • Never sacrificing your relationships or honor for money.

How do you define integrity? What does it really mean to you?

Of course, our integrity will be tested at times. Our judgment clouds as our passion, selfishness, greed and fear fight to take over on our quest to win. Sometimes, we mess up and our integrity gets scarred and cracked. When this happens, we need to fix it ASAP – We need to fess up, apologize sincerely, and pay the consequence. After all, integrity also means becoming whole. Nobody is perfect. We’re human.

Maintaining your integrity takes discipline, sacrifice and oftentimes an inordinate amount of courage. When you sacrifice your integrity, you erode your character. And over time, you will likely lose your most important asset – your reputation.

After your reputation, the next casualty is your honor. Without honor, we are nothing. We can’t be trusted. And we can’t trust ourselves. Are you willing to pay that price?

The cost of winning is indeed sometimes greater than losing. If you want to succeed in business and life, never lose integrity. Lose a sale, lose a client, lose a friend. But lose your integrity, and you lose your life.

If you found these tips from Rob “Waldo” Waldman, Lt. Col. CSP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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