For the month of June, we’ll be talking about some of the building blocks of character. This 4-part series will cover some of the most important skills we need to build for success in life, relationships, and work. Today, we’ll look at integrity.
The Latin root of the word integrity is ‘integer’, which means “whole” or “complete.” True character goes beyond having ethical business practices or simply not lying. What does it really look like under the hood? How is this wholeness expressed in everyday life?
We live in a world of quick fixes, extreme makeovers, and infomercials that promise us the body, family, finances, house, and life that we want. Numerous bestsellers promise that if you do XYZ, you’ll have (your dream here). This is not to say that there aren’t principles to success. However, brains, charm, physical health, talent, and even education can only carry us so far. Success will be short-lived without the growth of character.
When you find yourself in the company of a person with integrity, there will be a sense of safety. I discussed the character traits of safe people in a recent post. Often in my counseling work, my clients want to know that someone “has their back”—a spouse, a boss, or a family member. The person of integrity, through his or her actions, will make it clear that they are “for” and not “against” us.
Here are 10 signs of a person with integrity and growth of character:
- Willingness to grow; recognition that “I don’t have it all together.” There is a transparency, a sense that he is human also and has had obstacles to overcome.
- Consistency – words and actions line up.
- Dependable and faithful
- Competence and strength
- The ability to not just acquire knowledge, but to also take in new information and change her views
- The ability to put pride aside and self-evaluate, for example: “Is there a possibility that I’ve got this wrong? What impact am I having and do I need to change my approach?”
- Knows her strengths and weaknesses. And in the same way, views others as whole people with strengths and weaknesses.
- Treating others well even when it does not benefit him
- Having identity rooted in something greater than performance or circumstances
- Has goals and a work ethic, but is not entirely self-focused. Interested in seeing those he leads and interacts with grow and achieve also
Just as our experiences have left an imprint on our personalities and made us who we are, new experiences are necessary for those areas in which we want to grow. These new experiences might require becoming connected to a mentor or group. Growing character requires first an awareness of what needs to change.
Do you admire someone with these traits (or signs that he/she is growing in these areas)? What about your own areas for growth? Think about some of your recent interactions at home or work. Were the people around you better off as a result of having known or interacted with you?
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please call The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004.
Elicia McIntyre, a licensed clinical social worker, and graduate of Smith College School for Social Work, has 15 years’ experience providing counseling to adults, children and families in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. She has helped clients navigate life transitions, depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties. Elicia helps couples increase emotional intimacy, and foster healthy connections among family members. She has spent the past 3 years traveling nationally and overseas, providing education and intervention to military service members and their families on communication, stress management and building healthy relationships.