What is Integrity?

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Emily Anderson, one of our year-long LIFT apprentices, shares insights from the book, Integrity, on this week’s blog. Think you know what integrity is? Read on!

Doing The Right Thing When No One Else Is Looking

Growing up, I was always taught that integrity was simply doing the right thing when no one else was looking. But, after reading Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, I’m learning that integrity holds so much more weight than that. I saw many aspects of integrity that we have been reminded of several times during the internship. The biggest one that I made note of was the point of vulnerability in a leader. Vulnerability is essential to building integrity because your relationships with other people are dependent on how vulnerable you are.

Cloud says, “I needed a model who was strong enough to depend on, but vulnerable enough to identify with.” True vulnerability isn’t a weakness at all, even though it is often perceived as one. During one of our intern meetings last semester we watched a video about vulnerability. The speaker was a researcher and something that she said really stuck with me. She said, “vulnerability isn’t a weakness, in fact, it is the most accurate measurement of strength.” I’ve been learning, especially in the last few months, how essential vulnerability is to being a good leader. People will not follow you unless they know that they can relate to you and that you care about them.


Everyone Leaves A Wake Behind

Another challenge that I found in Integrity was the idea that everyone leaves a wake behind them. Sometimes we get distracted by what’s in front of us and forget to look back at our impact. It’s important that we look back to be encouraged for the future. Nothing is more discouraging than looking forward and thinking that you have little chance of ever changing anything. I was really encouraged to look back and be encouraged to make an even bigger wake in the future.

One thing that surprised me in the book was the topic of reality. Cloud made the statement, “Reality is always your friend.” He says that it’s often a difficult thing for people to accept. However, it’s important because reality is the only arena in which good things happen. Being in touch with reality is the only way for you as a leader to know the needs of your followers or see the changes in the world that need adapting to. This challenged me because I know that sometimes my positive thinking prevents me from seeing things for how they really are. Positivity is important, but it needs to be channeled into making reality better and not masking reality with an illusion of peace.

Cut Your Losses

Another point of integrity that was very challenging to me was the idea of cutting your losses. I struggle with letting things go, but I’m learning that an important part of leadership is knowing when to stick with something and knowing when to admit that it would be more beneficial to just let something go. To me, that seems like it would require a lot of leadership. I pray that one day I can possess the maturity that it takes to make those kinds of decisions.

There was a lot of points of Integrity that I had never considered before. The book was full challenges that I am really going to benefit from for the rest of my life. I’d like to go back and read the book again to really dwell on some of the concepts that it holds. I’m really excited to stretch myself during the rest of the internship using what I was able to read in this book.

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