Self-Esteem and Integrity

Self-esteem and integrity go hand in hand. Integrity entails that I practice what I preach. Integrity means keeping my promises, honouring my commitments and dealing with others fairly. Integrity means I aim for moral consistency in my life. When I behave with integrity I am automatically strengthening my self-esteem.

As we all know integrity in practice can become a bit messy due to human judgement. E.g. individuals are easily able to rationalise their behaviour. An individual will use a white lie to protect themselves or someone else. It will be of little concern to them. They will feel it is something that is quite common and lots of other people would to the same.

It is simple to say we need to be truthful about everything we say, do or experience. In business what judgement call would you make about the following: What is a valid business expense and what is not? How much billable time do you really spend on a client account? How truthful are you about what your products or services can deliver? Can you be totally truthful when giving your manager or staff feedback?  This brings us to another aspect of integrity.

In talking to others we will find differing definitions on integrity. What one person sees as acceptable behaviour another may disagree with strongly. There also appear to be differences across cultures. A common example is the use of favours. In one culture it may be considered quite acceptable but in another it would be seen as a definite bribe.

We may have been raised in an environment where the boundaries of what is right or wrong are blurred. Youngsters may not be in a position to make good judgments. But as adults with our decision-making abilities fully developed, we will soon experience the impact of our decisions and behaviour. As adults we are in a better position to judge whether our value system is serving us or whether we need to change it.

I good gauge when making decisions around self-esteem would be: would your decision or actions truly enhance your level of self-esteem? Or would you feel a tinge of guilt? Would you rationalise about your behaviour? We need to be aware that we always have a choice in what we decide and that the final responsibility rests with us.  As a result we need to know what is within our personal power and what not.

Two cases come to mind. Both women have been in abusive relationships with husbands who have abused alcohol for most of their married life. The one woman has been married for more than two decades and the other for roughly 15 years.  Both women had been persuaded by their pastors to give their spouse the benefit of the doubt and to remain in the marriage. Although they knew they could make different choices they felt guilty at going against what their church leaders had advised. They both stood up for themselves and took action to end the marriages. They both realise they needed to think for themselves and do what is best for their well-being.

In these personal examples we see how distorted situations can become when you live someone else’s values and not your own. The self-esteem of both of these women increased when they started thinking for themselves and made empowering decisions.

It does seem that the higher up you go in an organisation the more you will be challenged on your stand on integrity. Astute business men and women will refrain from playing the games that may compromise their integrity.

No matter how much you may say to yourself only you will know you were not totally truthful, etc. it will become apparent some time. Individuals gain a sixth sense about others. It is this sixth sense that will soon give the message that someone cannot be fully trusted.

If you want to discuss how relationships at work are placing pressure on you from an integrity point of view, you would benefit from coaching. So the question we each can ask ourselves is: what do I need to do or how do I need to behave if I want to be perceived by others as being trustworthy? Does what I say and how I behave match?

“With integrity you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity you do the right thing, so you will have no guilt” by Zig Ziglar. Are pressures in today’s world having a jaded impact on our ability to live a life of integrity?

Posted in Self mastery, Values.