One Uncompromising Essential of True SuccessBy
“Aren’t you worried about the direction of our country?” Phrased in different ways, it’s the question I’m asked more than any other by clients and friends.
Our government is as suspect as I ever remember. Officials passing legislation that neither the people wanted nor has much to do with needed reform. Some feel they know what’s best for us and pass bills by even changing the rules.
The unspoken thought, “The end justifies the means.”
We’re witnessing the greatest man-made ecological disaster in U.S. history in the Gulf. It was brought on, allegedly, by cutting corners with safety precautions to boost short term profits. And the some of the government regulators are rumored to be in bed, literally, with the corporate officials they were supposed to be supervising.
“Who’ll ever know?”
We recently escaped a near world-wide financial meltdown perpetrated by financial institutions that created bogus products and spread them around the world. All with the motive of collecting fees in the billions that went to the bottom line of these companies and to the bonuses of their executives.
“We’re too big to fail.”
I read recently about one leading business school which produced many of the MBAs at the heart of this recent financial catastrophe. Their image was tarnished so to polish it they instituted a mandatory class on ethics in business. Then at graduation they asked their students to sign an “Ethics Pledge.” Of these future leaders, only about half signed.
“This will all blow over.”
Friends and clients ask me this question because we all know deep inside it’s the foundation of everything else.
Yet, we don’t need to look very far to see the struggle.
We’re all bombarded every day with the temptation to shade the truth, cut corners, not do what we promised.
Often it’s framed, “No one will ever know.” Perhaps that’s true.
Or “If I don’t do it someone else will.” Also probably true.
Or “I’ll lose the sale, the account, my bonus, or promotion.” Maybe.
But in the end we know.
Truthfully, I can’t say I always make selfless decisions. And anyone who tells me they do, I think is either lying or delusional. But I can say honestly I constantly try to.
I work in a profession that’s esteemed only slightly above politicians, and lawyers. And significantly below doctors, teachers and sanitation workers. Yet, though I have clients who may disagree with my recommendations occasionally, I rarely have ever had anyone question my integrity.
I’ve given up some short term gains along the way. But I get up each day and feel good about helping not only clients but friends. That’s reward enough and honestly the money follows it eventually as well.
Proverbs talks a lot about integrity. One says, “The upright will inherit the land but the unfaithful will be torn from it.”
And part of the guiding principles of Rotary International, a humanitarian organization I am a part of, are called the “Four Way Test.” Two of them are:
“Is it the truth?” And “Is it fair to all concerned?”
Both share an ideal that’s pretty clear and difficult to live up to. Yet integrity truly is the one uncompromising essential of all true success. Without it we may make some money but we’ll never really enjoy it.
I would guess most of us want to live this way. Yet it’s constantly challenging.
What sets us free to live in this essential?
For me it comes down to my focus. It flows out of what I believe.
First, I believe that being honest and ethical is the best way to get ahead in the long run. Sure, sometimes in the immediate it doesn’t seem like it. We’ve all seen people who were super-stars in a particular field yet because of honesty issues flamed out. I trust over the long run people will recognize my character and want to work with me.
Second, I believe the end justifies the means very rarely and not near as often as claimed. My goals, no matter how important, normally can be attained with honesty and integrity. If they can’t I need to relook at my direction. This keeps people on board working together with me to accomplish those mutual goals.
Third, I know that self-esteem, which grows out of my integrity, is the most important ingredient in my personal success. Without my esteem intact I’ll never accomplish all I could. I won’t have the self confidence. Extraordinary success takes boldness. Self-esteem unleashes that.
Finally, at the core of it all, I trust God is my ultimate source of blessing. He’s the one with all the wealth and he gives it abundantly to me as I trust in him for it. And when I trust him it takes the pressure off thinking I must provide it all myself. This gives me the strength to live in the integrity I want to. And the more I trust, the more blessings I see which reduces the pressures even more.
Ok, not the most fun topic. Yet, it really is the ultimate feel good solution. Without it we’ll never achieve our potential success. Yet, with that core of faith and the integrity that grows out of it we build a foundation to live at the highest levels.
What have you found that helps you live a life of integrity? Share it with me and the results that have flowed out of it.
If this post has been encouraging to you please let me know. And please share it with a friend. I appreciate it.
Douglas Armey, the LPL Financial adviser associated with this website, practices in Fresno, California and may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the following states: California, Idaho and Oregon.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance reference is historical and is no guarantee of future results.