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Within the last few days the subject of integrity has come up in several conversations. I think there’s a buzz in the air, specifically with the upcoming elections, our failing financial institutions and the lack of integrity that we sometime see around us. I sent out a few tweets on Twitter asking, “Integrity is….”, and asking friends in the social media world to comment. The comments were interesting and quite consistent:

Integrity is…
… returning someone’s phone call when you say you will
… keeping your word even when it’s not easy
… consistently listening to your soul
… keeping the promises you make to yourself as well as to those around you
… being who you are even when no one is looking
… naked authenticity without regard for how it may offend (B.S. political correctness. Do the right thing!)
… being honest about having a beer with the boys even if you miss dinner and she’s ticked
… holding yourself to a higher standard of truth, sincerity, genius, class and caring for others
… what you do when no one is watching
… remembering that there’s someone called “I” too who needs me more than anyone
… doing what you say you will do; following through with your commitments
… integrity is the by-product of knowing you are whole and complete, i.e., enlightenment
… making something learned or some value part of our being; integral to who we are and how we act
… not lying to the cop who pulls you over for doing 71 in a 55
… doing what you should as opposed to what you want
… telling the truth even when it’s detrimental to you personally
… oneness or wholeness, which in terms of human qualities means there is no rupture or dissonance between our word and our action
… admitting to and apologizing for doing something wrong
… honesty and moral uprightness of character
… not exaggerating your accomplishments
… not cheating on your diet or your spouse
… doing the right thing even when no one is watching, or, as I like to say, to have “a cause without the applause”
… having the ability to refuse a job worth heaps because its out of sync with your values and ethics
… correcting the cashier when she misses an item in your basket at the grocery store
…  that which leads you to take the difficult, yet morally right choice, rather than the easy path of moral mediocrity
… doing what is right when no one is watching and you know no one will ever know
… living up to the man or woman you want others to hope you are
… truth to self that informs all we do, belief in self born of a foundation of beliefs we honor
… not lying about your weight, your age or your marital status
… choosing to do only the things you believe in, even if your livelihood and lots of dollars are at stake

But what about the little white lies? When a cop pulls you over as you’re zipping by 20mph over the limit and asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”, is it out of integrity to tell him you have no idea? What about when your best friend proudly shows off a new dress and asks “Don’t you just love it!”, and you don’t? I don’t have all the answers. I’m looking for your take on this too, but here’s mine.

I think it all comes down to this. Integrity isn’t relative. It isn’t a matter of perspective. You either have it or you don’t. How you do one thing is how you do everything. You can’t have integrity in some parts of your life and choose not to have it in others. It’s like being pregnant- you either are or you’re aren’t. You either have integrity or you don’t.

Having integrity is doing what’s right even if you’re the only one who knows, even if you’d never get caught and even if it causes you harm. It’s doing the right thing anyway. And, if you say you’re going to do something, do it. Your word is one of the only things that can never be taken away. It is such a part of who you are. And once it’s gone, it’s difficult at best to ever get it back.

Where are you out of integrity in your life? With your partner? Sneaking ice cream at 2am and breaking your diet? Lying to yourself about your relationship? We all have it somewhere. Mine is promising myself I’m going to exercise and then getting “too busy”.  I’m out of integrity with me.

Wow, in rereading this, if what I wrote above is true, then I have no integrity! Yeesh, that’s a hard one, no? Can I have integrity in most areas of my life and yet not have it with the commitments to myself? It seems more difficult to keep promises to myself than it does to anyone else. When I look back at the paragraph above where everything is so black and white, I realize that the world is sometimes gray. I believe it is possible to still have integrity most of the time, but we are also human. There may be times when we promise something to ourselves and then lack the follow through to make it happen. Is that being out of integrity? Is that a gray area?

I’d love to hear your take on this. Comment here or share at [email protected]. Thanks to all my Twitter friends for sharing your insights on integrity and giving me a lot of food for thought.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are; your reputation is merely what others think you are. ” –John Wooden

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Gail Lynne Goodwin is the founder of, bringing the best inspiration to the world. provides free inspiration, each day from a new Inspirational Luminary, to a global community of folks from over 150 countries. Gail has interviewed many well-known names including Sir Richard Branson, Guy Laliberte, Seth Godin, Tony Hseih, Gary Vaynerchuk, Michael Gerber, Marci Shimoff, Jack Canfield and hundreds more. According to Mashable, Gail was one of 2009's Top 25 Most Inspirational People on Twitter.

Prior to, Gail spent several years as manager for her recording artist daughter, Carly. As a result of the success of their co-penned song, "Baby Come Back Home", Gail accompanied her daughter to bases in the US and to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where Carly performed for our troops. Gail and Carly created the 'World's Longest Letter' of love and support and delivered the 18-mile long scroll on a month-long tour of Iraq and the Persian Gulf in 2006.

Gail is excited to present her latest course, Love in 21 Days, a step-by-step guide to finding love online. Love in 21 Days is founded on a logical process that has been tested - and proven! - by not only Gail, but also by students around the world who too have found love.

Gail is a published author and a regular writer for the Huffington Post. She offers mentoring and mastermind services to clients worldwide from her home in Whitefish, Montana. Follow Gail on Twitter or Google+.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Hi Gail,
    What a timely post – with it being election time and all. Actually, it’s always a good time to talk about integrity, dontcha think? My grandfather used to tell me to live my life like everyone was watching, and my grandmother would say I should live my life like no one was watching. I think on one hand, living your life to please yourself and follow your own beliefs is excellent advice. I think living like everyone is watching is one way to keep your integrity in check. Some folks think either ya got it or you don’t…but I think it has more to do with listening to your little voice inside, your intuition. I think we always “know” what to do, what the right thing is. Maybe integrity is comprised of the moments when we do, say, or respond in the way that resonates with our “soul” response, not doing or saying things to manipulate a particular outcome. Definitely food for thought Gail! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Hi Gail,

    More than not cheating on your diet or your spouse, integrity represents character, not just actions. People act with integrity because they have values like honor and strive to make the right choice.

    Thank you for inspiring me today with integrity.



  3. I was the one that submitted the fourth line… “keeping the promises you make to yourself as well as to those around you.” I had just returned from a trip to the place that I had once lived. Everytime I visit, I wish I still did live there. This last visit, it struck me that I had every intention of returning. Then I met my husband. We discussed my desire to return. He found a few opportunities that could work. I thought, great! Then we got married and the conversations about moving up there turned into conversations about why we should stay. I was truly disheartened, but then I thought, well, I’m married now, so that’s good right?

    It’s been eight years. We are now separated and looking at reuniting. But should we? He has broken promises to me over and over under the guise of not really saying yes or no emphatically. It was merely implied… like his job search and conversations with potential employers. He never specifically said that he would move… is that lying? From my side of the line, it sure does feel like it.

    Now the only lies are the ones I tell myself…

  4. Thank you for this opportunity to do a reality check.

    Integrity happens to be one of our 5 BASIC Principles. I know it well.

    Saying you would exercise, then getting too busy is NOT an example of being out of integrity with self. (Written by the way by a person, dressed in workout gear, who started to Zumba a few hours ago, stopped and is now hoping like hell to get to the gym today!)

    Disclosing that fact may be introducing some doubt about my credibility on this issue 🙂 BUT I encourage you to hear me out.

    NOT acknowledging your struggle with exercising consistently while writing a piece on integrity (and excluding it primarily because of shame) would lack integrity.

    Being accountable and acknowledging our shortcomings and challenges while we remain in action is what an authentic life of integrity is all about. And I applaud you Gail for your choice to demonstrate integrity.

    I agree that we must have integrity in all venues of our life, if we have it at all. It’s important as well to embrace our humanity and forgive, on a daily basis all departures from a life of complete integrity. And if this becomes a pattern of “i will, i didn’t, i’m sorry” then that pattern has to be acknowledged and purged.

    It’s in the intent… and we surely know what’s in our hearts!

    Thank you for this post!

    Wishing you Abundant Peace and Joy,

  5. Thank you all for your comments.

    Zoey, I love what you wrote- “Maybe integrity is comprised of the moments when we do, say, or respond in the way that resonates with our “soul” response”. That’s so true, so real, and so beautiful. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Jeanette, I agree with you, as always. Thanks for sharing your brilliance with us.

    Sugar, my heart goes out to you. I’ve been where you are now. The only advice I can give you is to follow your heart and do what makes you happy. Ask yourself, “How do I feel?” Our feelings are there for a reason. If you’re not happy, make whatever changes you need to make in order to be happy. I left my ex to move where my heart called me, and I’ve never been happier in my life. I’m now remarried and life has never been better. I think the secret is in being true to yourself- and that’s a form of integrity. I don’t think it’s selfish to take care of you first. You can’t be there for the rest of the world if you’re not happy and complete. Do what makes Sugar happy and your world will change for the better. I wish you the very best.

    Julette, your email made me laugh, made me smile and also made me think deeply. Thank you for sharing from your heart. Now we both need to go to the gym!

    I am so grateful for this community and the friendships. Thank you for being in my world.



  6. Thanks for this inspiring post on integrity, Gail! Doing the right thing at all times, even when no one is watching and would know otherwise seems a good test of one’s integrity. To me, integrity comes from God, who sees and knows everything we do. I agree with Jeanette that it is a matter of character and values.

  7. Gail, you hit on it in the later part of your analysis. And yes, while it sometimes seems as if life would be better if everything was black or white, it’s from the delightful shades in between that it gets its richness and essence.

    Integrity is about doing the ‘right’ thing – and not just about telling the truth, or doing it in a blunt, direct way.

    So, you could appreciate your friend’s dress, retain your integrity and still be truthful and honest – by doing the right thing! What’s that? I’ll leave it to you to figure out. Me, I’m just an opinionated reader with integrity! 😉

    All success

  8. Hi Gail,

    What an interesting exercise! In thinking about the comment that you have integrity or you don’t, it got me thinking about a favourite book of mine called Power versus Force. In it Dr David Hawkins the author mentions the various levels of consciousness from the lowest of shame through 16 levels to the highest of enlightenment.
    What I found interesting was that he said that it was possible for people to be at different levels in different areas of their lives! I found that extremely though provoking and when you think hard about it it makes sense (well to me anyway!).
    There are areas of our lives that we feel we’re making great progress in and others where we keep stuffing up! So I tend to think based on that research that is would in fact be possible to have integrity in some areas of your life and not fully have it in others. What’s more we make mistakes and those can be something that indicates we’ve failed to maintain our integrity.

  9. “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

    — Warren Buffet
    CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

    Gail is one of our new best friends.

    Integrity plays a role in everything from spirituality to home building & friendships. Our next documentary is called, Handshake: Integrity In Business. I think Gail might qualify for this one.

    Isaac Allen

  10. This is a great post. If the majority of the world had integrity imagine where we would be today. Unfortunately, this is not the case as we can see with the latest economic issues!

    I will make sure to post this on My Inspiration Lounge.

    Misty, Founder
    My Inspiration Lounge
    Connecting women to the best content on the web without all the searching!

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