Last week I was putting up Christmas decorations. In particular, I was swapping out some Thanksgiving decor from an herb window I have above my kitchen sink. That window is also where I’ve placed my mom’s Swarovski crystal figurines that I inherited. She loved them, and since I have only managed to keep one plant alive (ever!) I treat the herb window as a display case for the crystals. The sun hits them and they throw rainbows around the room – it’s truly lovely.
As I made room for some light up snowmen and a tea light candle display, I moved around figurines only to notice that three of them were broken. At first I thought – did I do this myself? I couldn’t have, I was just touching them for the first time in a couple months. This is when it dawned on me that one of the cleaning ladies, who come once every two weeks to dust, mop and wipe down the baseboards, must have broken them. I also realized that whoever broke them must have purposefully moved the figures to disguise that they were damaged. One, which was a unicorn, had its entire horn missing – nowhere to be found. Which indicates that it was thrown out so that I wouldn’t notice it lying separately from the body.
I’m an even tempered person, but I got upset and immediately contacted the business owners. I understand accidents happen and I’m quick to forgive. But here’s the thing, by placing the figurines in a way to disguise that they were broken I understood that at least one person I trusted in my home had a serious character flaw. She was deceptive and that is a big deal.
“Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life – all areas of life. The really good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity.” Zig Ziglar was spot on when he said this.
This situation got me thinking, do I need to work on my own trustworthiness. I value it in others and I want people to value it in me. After a bit of consideration and research I came up with the following list for building integrity.
- Don’t lie. This one is a no-brainer, but probably the hardest between wanting to avoid trouble, wanting to please others, and wanting to exaggerate for a good story.
- Keep your promises and if you don’t think you’ll be able to, don’t commit.
- Show up for friends, family, and social commitments. Extra points if you’re always on time.
- Take accountability for mistakes immediately and completely. If you are responsible for others, own their mistakes like it’s your own (ex. parents, managers, business owners, etc.).
- React slowly. Don’t let knee-jerk reactions sabotage how others see you.
- Avoid hanging out with people who lack integrity. Like you’ve heard before: You become who you hang out with.
I try to hold myself to the above standards. For full disclosure, I’m not perfect at any of them and especially not the first one. I am the queen of the little white lie, especially to make others feel better about themselves. It’s been said that it’s better to be slapped by the truth than kissed with a lie. I also tend to exaggerate stories for effect. Fortunately I’m aware of these habits, which means I can work on it. So take the time to reflect on yourself and decide if you could apply the above tips to increase your honesty and integrity.
To finish the cleaning lady story, I can tell you that the owners took the situation seriously. While they were not able to identify the employee who caused the damage, they offered to cover any repairs. And, since they also understand the value of integrity and the diminished trust this caused, they offered to put me on their personal cleaning rotation. Talk about great service!