A struggling contractor found himself in a bit of bind when the housing market took a turn for the worse. It was difficult to find work and he was slowly approaching bankruptcy. One day, a very wealthy man learned of his troubles and asked if he would build him a new home. He wanted a luxurious, multi-level, 5,000 square foot home with all of the best materials. The contractor was ecstatic and began construction immediately. He knew that the man would never know the difference in materials, and by using a lesser quality, he could increase his profits. He could also cut a few corners and increase his personal profits even more. After all, this man was certainly wealthier than the contractor who was barely getting by. Shortly after the home was finished, the contractor delivered the keys to the man as promised. The man looked at the contractor and said, “You know, I already have a very nice home. I don’t really need a new one. Why don’t you keep it?”
Integrity is Key
As simple as it seems, the right decision often hides itself deep within a cloud of justification. The fact is, circumstances do occur, and it becomes increasingly difficult to see through the cloud when faced with adversity. The foundation upon which our values rest can occasionally become unstable ground. There is, however, one value that must never be compromised: integrity. Integrity in your relationships, both personal and professional. Integrity in your clinical skill. Integrity, or lack thereof, exists in virtually every aspect of our lives. Shortly after the contractor moved into the home, the paint on the walls began to crack. The foundation began to sink and become unstable. Doors wouldn’t close properly and the ceiling began to leak. He soon discovered that it would cost nearly as much to fix everything that was wrong with the house as it did to build it. You see, integrity cannot be eluded. We can’t avoid the inevitable. Every action carries with it a consequence, and we are accountable for every action.
Being a person of integrity is often very difficult, but it is the difficulty that makes it such an admirable quality. It is adversity that strengthens character. Integrity does not require third party perspective because it is your truth that is at stake. It is that which you stand on: your foundation that ensures the walls around you maintain their integrity. It is your integrity that attracts and inspires integrity in your team, in your patients, in your colleagues. One small compromise makes us susceptible to another, and another, and another. Before long, we’ve lost way, and the fog that surrounds us makes it extremely difficult to see our way. Like the contractor, it is much more costly to repair the result of compromise than it is to sacrifice immediate gratification for a lifelong reward: becoming a person of relentless integrity. H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once said, “Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you”. Reinforce your foundation for life with integrity and your foundation will reinforce whatever rests upon it.