By Lynne Dean, 1st dan
To be honest or not? Truthfullness in and of itself is something we should strive for. But truthfulness or honesty, is not necessarily a driving life characteristic. Integrity however is defined as the quality of being honest. It is further defined as the state of being whole. And that wholeness is a worthy life pursuit.
Whether to have structural integrity or moral integrity – that wholeness, that resulting stability, that soundness – is a driving quality worthy of integrating into our lives as a driving principal. As CTI students and black belts, integrity is one of our 5 core tenants. The importance of living to that tenant within our school and especially as black belts is something that distinguishes us within our community. In a world of “little white lies” and “all talk but no action”, a person with integrity stands out. That person is honest, sure, but that person follows up on their word. That person cannot let acting in a lie, no matter how small, be the case. A person with integrity will grate at that circumstance.
There are countless times when I have had to actively NOT take the easy way because it was not within the character of maintaining integrity. For instance, there was a case where I could have taken advantage of damage made to my home by weather. I had a contractor who was “all about it” as far as getting anything possible on that insurance claim. But I had to put my foot down and actively counsel against that. Taking advantage of the situation and “no one would know” aspect of it wouldn’t sit well with me because I would know and it would have impacted my ability to maintain a clear conscience and to remain whole.
“Take the upper ground.”– It’s a strategic phrase that applies to not just warfare but to approaching a life with integrity. A person who is living a life focused on taking the upper ground will not get bogged down and lay waste in the quagmire of dishonesty and second-guessing. A counselor and now good friend once told me that if you can say that you have done your best when facing life’s challenges – that is truly the ultimate goal. Is your “best” right or wrong or the “best clinical response”? It doesn’t matter. You are freed from second guessing yourself if you can honestly respond to your conscience with “Yes – that was my best”.
The key point is to maintain focus on maintaining your integrity – maintaining your state of being whole – maintaining your drive to live with a quality of integrity – a quality of honor. Don’t succumb to the easy way out. Maintain the higher ground. As I continue to live and learn, if I can honestly do the best I can to maintain that higher ground, then Truth will Out and Karma will play it’s game, and in the end I will be whole and fulfilled in knowing that I am living a life of integrity.