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Integrity in Education

Sitting in Mels Diner today, agonizing over a job i want with Yelp.com, I overheard (ok, eavesdropped in on) a conversation that I found disturbing.  A family was discussing a problem concerning High School students that are jumping out in front of cars.  They do so in an attempt to collect insurance money?  Or file law suits?  Can this be true?  I guess it could however I found nothing about it online.  It did remind me that there are still no classes in High School about Character or Principled decision making. As well, my role as a parent may be the only thing between my kids and an intentional traffic incident.

We have to teach self-government.  Personal Integrity has to come before you can be honest and therefore trusted by others.  If you don’t keep promises to yourself than how can you be trusted by others to keep your commitments?

He stood me up

Have you had the experience of sitting in a restaurant or coffee shop and your date or business associate doesn’t show up?  I had this happen a few months ago. 

Frantic_manMy meeting mate had a bit of a reputation for being a bit of a
flake – he operates at a frenetic pace.  The kind of energy that you can tell is perhaps busy but not necessarily productive.  We were due to meet for coffee and discuss strategy for a local organization where we both serve as Board members.

He never showed up – not only that, but I sent him an email, text message and left voice mail messages on both his cell phone and office lines.  He never got in touch – no apology, no communication whatsoever. 

Fast forward a few months to a Board  workshop.  After milling around networking and getting coffee I returned to my chair to see an apology note and a $25 gift certificate for coffee.  I was cordial about it but still thought it was a low character move – a payoff of sorts for thoughtless behavior.  Sleazy_business_behavior

Fast forward again to a chance meeting with my mentor and advisory board member Dave DeRoos of CityGate Associates.  Dave is a character coach and we discussed the behavior of my coffee meet no-show.  He said,"I imagine this guy has a car full of gift cards, that way he never needs to be responsible for his behavior."  He also thought that perhaps I should have cut up the card…

The integrity of the callback

How do people that don’t follow up stay in business?  Have you ever wondered why someone that you’re doing business with can wait so long to return a phone call, an email, thank you for a referral (or not thank you at all – whoops!).  Easy to do AND easy not to do – but it makes all the difference.  Sometimes it contributes so much to your relationship that it’s more important than your capability. So where does the integrity thing come in?

Integrity is not just "being honest," although that has something to do with it. According to Roger Merrill, co-author of many good books about character and quality of life with Dr. Stephen Covey, "Integrity is acting in accordance with your deepest values without compromise."  This means keeping promises to ourselves as well as others.  We all have a "personal integrity account," Merill says.  We constantly make deposits or withdrawals.  Whether our account is in the red or black affects our stress, confidence, creativity and ability to relate meaningfully to others. 

In everyday life this means you have to do what you say you’re going to do.  How many times have we heard that?  I’m pretty sure I heard it from my father most of all.  Calling back is a deposit – it’s an easy one.  So is saying thank you.  So is replying to an email in a timely fashion – even if it’s a short note that says you need to think on the matter and will reply later in more detail.  Don’t wait a week to reply at all!  And, never, never, never, skip hitting reply.  People need to know you got the message.  Even if you just say, "Got this!" – it’s a deposit, and we all need them.