Is integrity a superpower? Not in the sense of the USA, China or Russia, but a power that only someone like Superman or Captain America has. Honestly, the way I look at the world today, it seems more and more likely that this is the case. As I mentioned in my first post, Integrity is a part of the philosophy that I and my company live by. I believe that it speaks volumes that I have to actually say it.
It seems that integrity is not something we’re all naturally born with, it’s something that has to be taught. In our early years, we have to be taught to tell the truth, we have to be taught to share, we have to be taught to respect others. On the other hand, something like breathing or eating is not taught, we instinctively do it. That’s another red flag for me.
To me, the reason why I have Integrity as part of my philosophy is that it is such a critical part of social interactions. It’s absolutely essential that these values are instilled in our children, and in order for us to instil these values in our kids, we must also have them within ourselves. The simple reason being, integrity isn’t something easily learned through reading or being told, but through observation.
I attended a talk on parenting in Islam a while back. The speaker went through some of the verses in the Quran as well as the Hadith on parenting and raising kids, but summarised good parenting simply and beautifully: “In order to be a good parent, you must first be a good child.” What he meant by this, in his particular context, is that our kids will treat us the way we treat our parents, so if we want our kids to interact with us respectfully, we should treat our own parents that same way. We can expand this to anything else as well; how we interact with other people, is how they will interact with other people. Kids will ape us (being the little monkeys that they are…) in nearly everything that we do. You see, this is also how something like racism is born…
In the workplace, the same rules apply. Members of staff will look at what the boss does and ape it too (being the monkeys that they are (but I’ve also been told that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys…)). So, just like with the kids, if you want your staff to come in to work on time, or complete their work in a timely manner, you too must do the same. There’s no point in having official working hours of 9-5 and expect them to come in on time and leave at the right time if you come in at 10 and leave at 4.30. If you want an honest staff, you can’t go around telling lies. If you don’t want staff who take bribes, you can’t take (or give) bribes.
All these things boil down to having Integrity. I know that we live in an imperfect world, and a world where everyone has perfect integrity or ethics is a Utopian paradise that we may not likely see. It’s hard sometimes to not tell that little white lie, like, I read your proposal in detail, or, your pet went to live in a farm upstate, or, you don’t look fat in that dress (OK, that last one is the honest truth, no matter what, always). But we have to always try to do what’s right, we have to try to do the right thing, which is usually quite difficult and can be scary at times. We need to be able to say, I’m sorry, I skimmed the proposal and it’s not right for me; we have to talk to our kids about death; we have to say no, you don’t look fat in that dress.
As a little side note, Whenever I talk about integrity, I’m always reminded of that Phil Collins (Genesis) song “Jesus He Knows Me” and that particular line, around the 2:35 mark, “But just do as I say, don’t do as I do.” Of course, the whole song is a parody of TV evangelists, and in a way, we can take the opposite of what he sings to be a bit truer (or so I hope, anyways).
So, back to the original question, “Is Integrity a superpower?” Well, we all have our own values and standards, whether they’re taught to us by religion or any other source, and I believe that we all do try to live with integrity. To me, it’s not always an easy task, especially if our deep-seeded survival instincts kick in and tell us to lie or cheat or anything else. As I said, Integrity seems to be something that has to be taught and isn’t necessarily naturally occurring. So, you tell me…