Integrity is a standard of personal morality and ethics. It is not relative to the situation and doesn’t sell out to expediency. Its short supply is getting even shorter. But without it, leadership is a façade.
Related: What Does Integrity Mean, Anyway?
Learning to see through exteriors is a critical development in the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Sadly, many people continue to be taken in by big talk and media popularity, flashy looks and expensive possessions. They move through their life convinced that the externals are what count, and are thus doomed to live shallow lives. Men and women who rely on their looks or status to feel good about themselves inevitably do everything they can to enhance the impression they make—and do correspondingly little to develop their inner value and personal growth. The paradox is that the people who try hardest to impress are often the least impressive. Puffing to appear powerful is an attempt to hide insecurity.
In the Roman Empire’s final corrupt years, status was conveyed by the number of carved statues of the gods displayed in people’s courtyards. As in every business, the Roman statue industry had good and bad sculptors. As the empire became increasingly greedy and narcissistic, the bad got away with as much as they could. Sculptors became adept at using wax to hide cracks and chips in marble and most people couldn’t discern the difference.
Statues began to weep or melt under the scrutiny of sunlight. For statues of authentic fine quality, carved by reputable artists, people had to go to the artisan marketplace in the Roman Quad and look for booths with signs declaring “sine cera,” which translates to, “without wax.” We, too, look for the real thing in friends, products and services. In people, we value sincerity more than almost any other virtue. We expect it from our leaders, politicians, media outlets, business leaders and sports greats. And we must demand it of ourselves.
Related: Rohn: 7 Personality Traits of a Great Leader