In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, hotelier Ben Weprin said, “The best business advice I’ve ever received came from Sam Zell, who told me the most important thing is Shem Tov, which means your name and your integrity. Make all your decisions upon protecting those.”
(Hotelier Ben Weprin on the Best Rooms and Old Jeeps http://on.wsj.com/1qGF2b0 )
I am an avid reader, and I love the WSJ for the front page, the personal and the weekend edition listings of all the amazing homes for sale. In the Life section, they feature celebrities and a listing of about twenty questions. In one of the questions, the idea of business advice was posted, and I thought the response was right on target and would be a good discussion with my readers and podcast listeners, and since that concept is in line with my personal values and mission, I made it my theme for this week.
Without a doubt, the truth of the statement, your two most valuable assets are your name and your integrity, is life-altering, so remember to make all your decisions upon protecting those two values.
Amy Rees Anderson has a quote that I have posted before because I love it, and it is found in Forbes magazine. She says, “If I could teach only one value to live by, it would be this: Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity.” Frankly, I couldn’t say it better myself.
According to dictionary.com, Integrity is a noun. The definition:
- Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
- The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.
- A sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.
And I love definition from Wikipedia ,“Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. It is generally a personal choice to uphold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards.”
I’ve written before about the value of your name, and without a doubt, you know how important it is to protect your reputation, but I wonder how much time you’ve given to the idea of protecting your integrity–your adherence to moral and ethical principles; your soundness of moral character; and, most importantly, your honesty. And I’ll add, your personal decision to uphold your personal standard to meet your personal code of conduct.
Without a doubt, in today’s world it appears that the character trait of integrity is heading to extinction and might be lost by this generation or the next.
So what would happen in our personal life if we made all our decisions based on the idea that everything we say, everything we do and everything we commit to we would actually accomplish?
Really think about the idea that we would uphold our words, our deeds and our actions to our personal standard of excellence. No excuses, no justifications and no little white lies.
When I think about that, all I can say is Wow, wouldn’t that be something? It’s almost too big to comprehend because, for most of us, that is not something we’ve seen much of. Occasionally we are pleasantly surprised and grateful, but for the most part, when people actually keep their word, their promise or their commitment to do something it is unusual.
So imagine if you became that person or dusted off the old you and went back to doing the things you know are right, true, honest and faithful.
I can imagine, after your friends and family picked themselves up from the floor because you actually kept your word and did what you said you would do and completed the action in a reasonable amount of time, they would be astounded at your level of personal integrity and then a few things undoubtedly would happen.
I suspect their sense of trust with you would be enhanced.
I’m guessing they would hold a deeper respect for you, and I’m pretty sure that you would be the beneficiary of knowing you are living an authentic life.
From my informal questions and answers with clients, when I ask what is a trait that you look for in others, inevitably they say “someone I can trust”. There is no doubt that trust is a treasured gift that many hope for or cling to when going through hard times. To be able to trust someone and know that they have your back, that they will keep your promise or your secret or that they will simply be with you is a precious gift that so many seek and so few find.
Building your trust quotient with others will pay lifetime of dividends for all involved. You never know when you are going to need someone you can trust. And I want to take it a step further and remind you that trust is breakable, so remember this quote by Bob Vanourek, “Trust is built when someone is vulnerable and not taken advantage of.” You know that is not the way of the world, but you also know that if you’re a person of integrity protecting the vulnerable without seeking personal gain, this is trustworthiness in action.
It isn’t hard to accept the fact that, when integrity is paramount in your life, by your words, deeds and actions you will be held in high regard with great respect and admiration. A person of integrity just seems to be one of those things that is so rare, when found, it is admired and talked about. That goes to my thought about the value of your name and reputation. I am sure you are familiar with the famous line by Warren Buffett, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
Sometimes, as a media coach, I am brought in to work with politicians and executives who teeter on the edge of wrecking their careers due to their anger or ignorance, and all I can lightly remind them of when they cool down, is this simple thought, don’t ruin a lifetime of work by an emotional action that will have repercussions that even a master spinmeister can’t fix. Instead, fight to be a person who values your name and who will not allow the equity of a lifetime of service or success to be damaged by your actions or words due to some outside force that is gunning to wreck your reputation for revenge.
So many times I want to yell, “Think, people, think…before you jump into a puddle of stupidity,” but yelling is frowned upon in business.
Once you lose your good name, for many of us it is lost for years and in some cases a lifetime. You’ll spend the rest of your days rebuilding what you could have left standing had you slowed down and considered the cost of your actions and the value of your name.
If you mess this up, consider how hard it will be for others to maintain any sense of respect for you. You let go of the one trait that you worked so hard to live up to because it is the right thing to do in your work, with your family and your friends.
Then consider how you will feel when you know you are not living your authentic life because you let a little rain ruin your parade instead of waiting for the sunshine of success to fill your sky.
As your friend and coach, I want others to hold a deep sense of respect for you. I can think of no other honor or benefit to be awarded you because you’ve earned it by your faithful actions and your personal integrity, the two most valuable assets you have in this life. So, in order to make that wish come true, consider the work you have to do based on the idea of “Shem Tov, which means your name and your integrity,” and then make all your decisions upon protecting those two traits, the foundation for your personal choices, and your commitment to uphold a consistent, moral and ethical standard…because what else is there in this word than to be who you really are?
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