Integrity.

in·teg·ri·ty

noun/in?tegrit?/?

The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

That’s how the dictionary defines integrity. But whenever it comes up in conversation, I tend to define it like this:

A person who has integrity lives his or her life like everything he or she ever does and says will be dug up by a good newspaper reporter, unexpectedly. He or she simply doesn’t do or say anything that he or she would not be able to explain — NAY — defend if the thing done or said were, in fact, exposed. He or she doesn’t do or say things privately that are inconsistent with his or her public image. He or she doesn’t misrepresent him or herself.

Most of the women and men who choose otherwise won’t be discovered, ever. What they’ve said and done won’t show up in the paper. If their lies, for instance, are uncovered by someone, I bet it’s even more likely that that person will call them out for it privately, or in a sector so small that their being called out for it won’t rip the rug of their lives out from under them. But that isn’t the point.

I don’t suggest living like a reporter will dig up our dirt so we sound good if a reporter actually writes about us. I suggest it because when we are in-authentic, in-credible and dishonest, we do a deeper disservice to our families, our friends and ourselves than a single story in the paper could convey. And for the flippin’ love of Pete, it’s the right thing to do. In the long run, we live life the hard way when we decide to manipulate our worlds so we can do whatever we want while we appear to be doing something completely different. We damage our families and friends if we’re discovered, and we damage them if we’re not (because how true is your love if nobody knows the person from whom it is given?).

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