It’s better to not get what you want and act with integrity
than to get what you want and not act with integrity.
--- Anthony Silard
When you deliberately engage in actions such as not holding your company to environmental standards (taking the right of people to live in a healthy world) or demeaning a coworker (taking their right to be treated with respect), you end up hurting yourself. How does this happen? Your self-image evolves in the direction of your actions. You see yourself as someone who takes from rather than gives to others, as someone who has a negative impact on the people around them. As a result, your self-image suffers, and you lower the level of treatment you will accept from others. Why would you accept such treatment? You feel you are receiving what you deserve. This unconscious meritocracy is very real and present within each of us (with the exception of some extreme cases such as sociopaths, who can act without an overarching conscience) and sets the floor and ceiling of your existence. In other words, it determines the bandwidth of the love you will allow yourself to receive from others. It is the concrete explanation of the old saying “What goes around comes around.” Reflect on a time in your life when you acted with integrity, even at the cost of a short-term goal or desire. Also recall a time when you placed your immediate interests above what you knew was right for others. What were the outcomes of these two critical moments in your life? How did they influence your self-esteem and inner strength? Now meditate on how you have been acting toward others over the last few months. Ask yourself this question: “What has come first—my desire to get what I want, or my deeper conviction to act with integrity?” Envision how you will act going forward to assimilate the integrity you need to fill your life with the relationships you desire.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).