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Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity is Forever

| December 18, 2012

by Jim Bruce

The Tuesday Reading today is “Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity is Forever, an essay by Amy Rees Anderson which appeared recently in Forbes.  Anderson is the Managing Partner and Founder of REES Capital which provides entrepreneurs and business executives critical guidance and support to help their companies grow.  Previously, she founded and managed number of entrepreneurial ventures including MediConnect, a cloud-based health information exchange.  

She begins the essay with a simple statement:  “If I could teach only one value to live by, it would be this – Success will come and go, but integrity is forever.”  To her, integrity means doing the right thing all the time!  She notes that this takes inordinate amounts of courage and that that while integrity takes years and years to build, it can be destroyed in a fleeting moment.

In the essay, she makes a number of important observations.  Four seemed to me to be particularly important:

1.  We live in a world where the end, almost any end, justifies the means.  Fundamentally, in each case the dishonest individual believed that they had a sufficient reason for what they did.  And, that no-one would car or find out.

2.  Such “ends” provide some instant justification in the moment but it rarely lasts very long.  Since leaders are always “on-stage,” invariably someone sees and eventually you or your observer who tries what you did gets badly hurt.  Fundamentally, what’s lost is your ability to be trusted as a person of integrity.

3.  Every person who trusts you spreads word of that you can be trusted as a person of integrity.  Warren Buffet said it well:  “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities:  integrity, intelligence, and energy.  And if they don’t have the first one, the other two will kill you.”

4.  Avoid those who are not trustworthy.  If a person is dishonest in one aspect of his or her life, they will invariably be dishonest in others as well.  “If we surround ourselves with people who are dishonest and willing to cut corners to get ahead, then we’ll surely find ourselves following a pattern of first enduring their behavior, then accepting their behavior, and finally adopting their behavior.”  To build a reputation as a person of integrity, surround yourself with people of integrity.

A lot to think about here.  Find some time this week to reflect on Amy’s essay.  She has a plaque in her office that says:  “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.”  Something that might be a good reminder to all of us.


.  .  .  .     jim