Ethics are the fruits of your company, while “integrity” is the root feeding ethical behavior and standards. Just as the health of a plant is determined by the quality of the unseen root system’s capacity, the root of integrity determines whether an organization or society can stand upright and grow whole and healthy.
If the roots are damaged then the plant will produce less. If the health of an organization or a society is dependent upon the root system, then integrity is critical.
If the root system is inadequate or partial then the larger system that we see is going to show symptoms of this weakness in terms of escalating cheating, ethical violations, broken trust and senior executives being forced to resign and legal disputes.
We are attempting partial solutions by passing more legislation, offering more classes on ethics and hiring more lawyers — these attempts are bound to fail. The health of our society is not going to be found by focusing on the fruits but by focusing on the fundamental and unseen roots.
We will grow and develop in ethical behavior as we feed and water the root of integrity through conscious attention, awareness and courage. But how do you feed and water these roots?
- Create daily reminders of what is most important in life
- Surround yourself with people who will keep you honest by telling you the truth when you are getting off-track or not being your best self.
- Proactively seek corrective feedback on how you can improve, and thank the people who share their insights.
- Be mindful on the thoughts you dwell on during the day