A lot of qualities are needed to be successful. Some of them are nice to have, and some of them are must-haves. In my opinion, Honesty, and Integrity are at the top of that list.
What is Honesty?
Honesty is a virtue, in fact widely accepted as one of the moral virtues everyone is expected to have. To a lot of people, it’s ambiguous though what Honesty actually means. In a simple sense, Honesty is free of deceit or fraud. It’s a combination of truthfulness, sincerity, and doing the right thing. Now, doing the right thing is also sometimes called Integrity. Then what is the difference between Honesty and Integrity?
Integrity is adherence to strict morals and deals with action – whereas Honesty deals with words. For example, let me share a real story with you and then help me decide if its Honesty or integrity.
My Story from the bus journey
Back in 2002, I was traveling from Bombay to Indore on a Volvo 2×2 bus. It used to be a 12-13 hours journey by road, overnight. The reason I was traveling because I was sick and wanted to go back home. My friend Shiv got me on the bus, and I was going to sleep all way until I reach home. The next day early morning, the bus stopped at a roadside place for breakfast. I was feeling a little better so I got out, brushed, and washed my face. I took a Bisleri water bottle and went back to my seat on the bus. After a few minutes, the bus started and we were back on the road. A few hours later, as I was sipping water from the bottle, I realized that I did not pay for the water bottle. I had made a mistake. An honest mistake. As soon as I got home, I told my grandma that I did not pay for the water bottle, so I took 10 rupees, went to a temple and put that 10 rs in the donation box.
Now, what quality do you think I demonstrated ?
Integrity or Honesty?
In retrospect, I was honest in admitting my mistake; I was guilty, so i tried doing the right thing by donating 10 rupees to make myself feel better. But neither of them was “the right thing” to do. The right thing would have been to go back to that roadside shop and pay the 10 rupees and say sorry. That would be integrity.
An Honest Thief?
Let’s say you found a $100 bill on the road and you decide to keep it for yourself. If anyone asks you, you are being honest in saying that it’s not yours, and you found it on the road. Are you willing to return it to the actual owner? Are you doing anything to find the right owner and return it to them? Integrity would be to find the rightful owner and return it to them. Otherwise, you are being an Honest thief who stole someone’s $100.
Here is another story on Honesty that you may like –
A Pound of Honesty and integrity
In the countryside of Boston, once lived a farmer. In the same town, there was a baker who did business with the farmer. The farmer used to bring a pound of butter every day to the baker’s shop and purchased a pound of bread in exchange.
Being in business every day, they developed a good friendship and a bond. One day, the baker weighed the butter out of suspicion and found that farmer was cheating him. Instead of a pound of butter, he is giving him less quantity of butter. Feeling deceived by this, he got angry and decided to bring the poor farmer to the court of law.
In the court, the judge asked the farmer if the accusation was correct. The farmer replied, “I am a poor farmer. I don’t have a pound weight. I have been buying a pound loaf of bread from the baker. Every day, I put the bread on the scale and get the same weight in butter for the Baker.”
The Baker realized his mistake. He had lost a good friend due to his suspicion and lack of integrity.
What did we learn?
- Being honest and having integrity yourself is a key before you expect it from others.
- Don’t blame others for something that you have not fully understood or confirmed.
- A friendship is much more important than petty matters – like a pound of bread or butter!
I believe that Honesty and Integrity both are needed to be successful. In the words of Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett – “In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities: Integrity, Intelligence, and Energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”
Its so true! If you hire someone who has great energy and is very intelligent – they may work for their benefit more than your cause – if they lack integrity. Same applies to you, if you are in a place where you have to compromise with your Integrity – think again, are you doing it for the right reason? May be you need to change your thinking.
I am not immune
I will be honest, I have in my life made decisions that in retrospect may not be fully aligned with the definition of “integrity”. I can justify them as much as I want, but those are things i should not have done, and I have learned my lesson. I try to follow the prinicples I am sharing with you and continue to improve on them.
The first step to fix something is to acknowledge it. Second step, is to promise yourself that you’ll fix it. and the third, most important step is to keep your promises!
I hope you like this serving of a pound of Honesty and Integrity.