Character is the foundation of leadership not only because it’s the
primary indicator of how others respond to you, but because it’s
the primary indicator of how you respond to you.
--- Anthony Silard
You internalize a self-image based on how you behave toward others. When you act with integrity, you feel like a decent and worthy person, and you set the bar high for the treatment you will accept from others. In The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini shares the ancient Afghan wisdom that there are many ways to take what belongs to others. When you cheat, you take the other person’s right to be treated honorably. When you steal, you take their right to a livelihood. When you lie, you take their right to the truth. When you harm someone emotionally or physically, you take their right to emotional or physical health. Whether you act deliberately or not is very important. Despite our best efforts, we all unconsciously take what belongs to others in some of these ways. We should not allow our transgressions to affect our self-image as long as we learn from our actions and commit ourselves to act in healthier ways in the future. Pick a situation at home, in a friendship, or at the office and ask yourself whether you acted with integrity. If you received a lot of support from others on a crucial project, did you give them the credit they deserved, or did you jump into the limelight and not look back? If you made a promise to someone and then later wished you hadn’t, did you honor your word or at least reset their expectations before it was too late, or did you find a way to prevent them from receiving what they had coming to them? In every way large and small, in every single moment of your day, you choose whether to practice integrity.
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).