The overarching purpose of this website is laying out how to bring satisfaction and joy to your life. I believe this is done by realigning all aspects of your life to your core values, those standards we all have of what is truly important to us.
Our integrity, the inner strength we cultivate to live according to our values, should shape every part of how we live. This is easier to achieve in our home lives, but we often find that work life seems to require us to act according to a different set of rules. This can be true whether you’re working for someone else or running your own business, as even in our own businesses we’re generally under pressure from other people.
What does it mean to work with integrity?
Working with integrity means bringing all of your core values into the way you conduct business. Do you value authenticity, helping others, being honest, working hard? Do you value taking care of families, women, minorities and the vulnerable? Do you value fairness and refuse to manipulate others in your daily life? These are all standards that you can bring into the way you work.
One thing to note is that you can work your value system, whether or not you enjoy your job. Being integrity-driven gives its own satisfaction, whether or not the work itself is satisfying. Doing your best and respecting yourself by working in line with your own standards shows that you have great inner fortitude. This should be something you’re proud of and intent on creating in your life.
Keep in mind that at times your value system may not be appreciated by others, especially if you work for someone else. In this case you may need to weigh your values and figure out what takes top priority. Ideally we would all have the freedom to work to our own high standards, but sometimes we may have to temper this in order to be able to make ends meet. If this is you, do what you can with what you have and keep looking for opportunities to realign yourself, even if it means finding another job.
What is the impact of conducting business with integrity?
Integrity should be a foundational principle in all businesses, but it actually seems to be rather counter-cultural thinking. It is commonly accepted that businesses try to attract clientele by using exaggeration (if not outright untruths), sex appeal, manipulation, guilt and fear in their advertising. The mark of a good marketer is that he or she is able to convince a person that they need something, whether or not they really do. People on one end of the sale celebrate this behaviour, people on the other end expect and accept it, and thus it becomes the status quo.
Realigning to integrity will require you to leave former thinking behind and imagine new ways of doing things. For example, you may need to rethink the way you market your goods or services once manipulation is taken off of your agenda. You might need to reevaluate your customer service relationships if you don’t truly believe that the customer is always right, but have been taught to treat them that way.
If you’ve been in the game for a long time and are still not getting the results you desire, business culture might tell you to change your marketing strategy: make your product appear more enticing; convince people that they need what you’re selling, at any cost. However, integrity would inform you to take a look at your product or service to evaluate why it is not attracting the interest you’d expected. If you have a valuable good or service and people know about it, it should largely sell itself.
Working with integrity creates strong interpersonal relationships at work. In fact, the ability to stick to your own standards in the face of opposition demonstrates a strong leadership skill. Bosses notice when their inferiors work with integrity and customers take note when a business has proven themselves to be honest and forthright. While there may be some friction if your standards are drastically out of alignment with those of the business you find yourself in, no one can truly hold it against you and most will respect you for it on some level if you stick to your guns.
Building upon a foundation of integrity creates a strong, stable business. It is not a rapid growth plan. It takes time to build a reputation for being fair, honest, community-driven, ecologically sound and so on. It’s worth the time and effort, though. Integrity attracts a certain type of customer to you who is more likely to be a loyal and passionate supporter of your work. This creates a slow and steady growth that is more likely to bring you long term success.
Creating a business model from a foundation of integrity creates ethical businesses that this world needs to see more of. Our business ethics are a reflection of who we are as a society in general. Rather than making dishonesty, manipulation and greed the message that business propagates, we should spread the message that fairness, honesty, care for others, care for the environment and so on are normal and desirable. Imagine if that was the message your children were getting through every business interaction they witnessed or participated in!