What Matters is Integrity

Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.

If you search up the definition of integrity, the first definition you’ll find is:

  • the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

However, this definition misses the bigger picture. Bushido describes integrity ("Gi") as one of the eight virtues and ideals that dictate samurai life:

Being acutely honest through your dealings with all people. Believing in justice, not from other people but from yourself. To the true warrior, all points of view are deeply considered regarding honesty, justice and integrity. Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.

Warriors make a full commitment to their decisions.

How often have you heard the phrase, “something came up”, hesitated to pull-through with your New Year’s resolution to exercise more or seen friendships fail because one side failed to commit to the other?

How often have you set goals for yourself you haven’t fully committed to?

We live in an age where opportunities have become easy to pursue. Starting a business has never been cheaper, reaching out to a friend can be as simple as a press of a button on your phone and learning a new skill can be done by signing up to a free course on one of hundreds of online learning providers.

Yet we struggle to follow through.

And I use the word “we”, because lately, I haven’t been leading my life with integrity. For the past 3 months, I have out-thought my way from starting projects and part of me writing this now is to give myself a wake-up call to actualise my goals and hopefully inspire you to either keep living with integrity or join me in my journey to live with integrity.

I make my case on why leading with integrity is so important based on a few things…

In a paper published by Harvard Business School, Michael C. Jensen, Werner Erhard and Steve Saffron explore the relationship between integrity and performance. In the abstract for their thesis they define their terms:

Integrity in our model is honouring your word. As such, integrity is a purely positive phenomenon. It has nothing to do with good vs. bad, right vs. wrong behavior. Like the law of gravity, the law of integrity just is, and if you violate the law of integrity… you get hurt just as if you try to violate the law of gravity with no safety device. The personal and organisation benefits of honouring one’s word are huge – both for individuals and for organisations – and generally unappreciated.

Integrity is, they say, ‘a factor of production as important as knowledge or technology’ that provides access to incredible increases in performance’. Without integrity, nothing works.

Jensen and Erhard’s article uses the example of a bicycle to put it plainly. As we remove the spokes from the bicycle, the wheel is no longer whole and complete. Because the wheel is no longer whole and complete, the integrity of the wheel is diminished.

However, imagine if the spokes remained as they were. The bike operated like clockwork, with the chains, cogsets, and wheels operating as normal. How much further of a distance would we have travelled in using this bike, than the ones with the spokes removed?

Jansen postulates this idea in what is called the Ontological Law of Integrity:

To the degree that integrity is diminished, the opportunity for performance is diminished.

The more we ignore integrity and committing with our decisions, the less we achieve. It’s a simple idea, although very few ascertain what it truly means to be a warrior.

As James Kerr’s Legacy puts it, “If the conversation we have with ourselves has integrity, then the results can be revolutionary.”

Based on this, it’s clear that living with integrity is what makes you whole. It’s the single most powerful value that is able to build cities, monuments and empires. I could dive into the tips and tricks to boost your focus, productivity and "follow-through" to drive your integrity. But there is no hack for hard work. Likewise, there is no hack for having integrity – there is only committing to your decisions.

Before I sign-off, I’ll mention 2 things.

There’s an old story about J.P. Morgan, the banker and philantropist, who was shown an envelope containing a ‘guaranteed formula for success.’ He agreed that if he liked the advice written inside he would pay $25,000 for its contents.

Morgan opened the envelope, nodded and paid.

The advice?

1. Every morning write a list of the things that need to be done that day.

2. Do them.

I’m going to make a full commitment to write an article each week. And I’m going to do them.

What’s a decision you haven’t made a full commitment to? What’s stopping you from being a warrior?

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ABOUT ME

I write about my learnings in health, tech, and lifestyle design. I’m still navigating the journey of being a 20-something.

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