When Did Integrity Become a Buzz Word? By Darren Jensen
Recently a document announcing a new network marketing company came across my desk. There among the glossy photos of people smiling, the slick product announcement, and the marketing jargon was something that caught my eye – the company’s value statement. I focused in on one phrase in particular:
“We believe in acting with integrity”
There was nothing jaw-dropping about this. In fact, statements using this word “integrity” can be found in nearly every company vision, purpose or mission I’ve ever read, but in this moment, I was dumbfounded.
It felt like I was reading a pamphlet from an airline that said, “We believe in leaving the tarmac,” or one from a restaurant that said, “We believe in not giving you food poisoning.”
Shouldn’t these things go without saying? After all, integrity is the fundamental base for any business interaction – nobody wants to do business with someone that lies, cheats and steals from its customers. Do we really need to declare something that should be a given?
The answer may be yes…
As you read this, you may be thinking of people or businesses that have acted unethically. And because of that sad truth – yes, our integrity may be something worth trumpeting.
But here is why I also say the answer is also “no” – because integrity is not something you can simply declare. Shout it from the rooftops all you want, but a reputation for integrity takes time to build. It takes years of repeated action, not just words. In fact. the word “character” is derived from the Greek word charaktēr, meaning to “engrave”. I think this is perfect. The word “engrave” conjures visuals of working diligently, taking time and effort to solidify something in stone.
The unfortunate truth is that it can also be shattered in a moment.
In our profession, we’ve seen, firsthand, how a few network marketers trying to swindle or trick others have caused an uphill battle for thousands of honest distributors who have to fight hard to overcome negative perceptions or stereotypes.
This means, more than nearly any other profession, our integrity is paramount. We must be beyond reproach in order to overcome these perceptions.
I personally have left jobs, ended relationships, and left millions of dollars on the table in order to keep my integrity intact. As painful as those have been, I’m proud of those moments. In fact, at this point in most articles on integrity, you’d find a humble brag here about an integrity-defining moment. But I’ll spare you because I’m assuming everyone reading this is already a person of integrity. Plus, those moments are usually over worn altruisms that no longer carry much meaning. Instead, I’d rather share something you might not typically hear in these kinds of articles:
Despite our best intentions or desires, we all make mistakes.
I share this because all my life I have wanted to be known as a man of integrity. I have tried to surround myself with others seeking the same. In the process, I have met some incredible, inspiring individuals. However, as I have studied them I have noticed a common thread: that being a person of integrity doesn’t mean we have never committed an ethical or moral error. Instead, I believe it means realizing when we have, admitting it to ourselves and others, and then having the strength of character to learn and grow from our mistakes. The most inspiring people I have met realize it is far worse to hide behind our good intentions than it is to say, “despite my good intentions, I think I made a mistake.” They understand that only in the latter can we truly grow.
Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about huge ethical violations for which there are really no excuses. I’m talking about the little imperceptible errors we too easily let slide. The ones we allow ourselves to justify, but in our quest for true integrity cannot allow. I’m talking about the applicant that exaggerates their skills to get a desperately needed job, or the businesswoman that overpromises and under delivers, the man who covers his mistake because he doesn’t want to be thought of as less than perfect, or the distributor that exaggerates their monthly earnings to close an enrollment.
All of these are things we have seen and perhaps some we have done. However, true integrity comes in being able to admit we made a choice that is not in line with the person we want to be. It comes in being self-reflective enough to say, “I know where I went wrong and how I can do better next time. True integrity requires honesty with ourselves.
I share this because I believe the vast majority of people in our industry (and in the world) are good. They desire to help, to lift, to inspire and to be people of integrity. However, it is important for us to realize that our character is always on display. Those around us are watching – silently and subconsciously making the decision whether we are people they want to associate with or even do business with.
And this is what I like so much about integrity—that it’s not just words. It’s the essence of life itself.
It’s found in self-reflection and demonstrated in the little, tiny actions that only we perceive. That’s why I don’t think we need to state that we operate with integrity in our marketing materials or mission statements. Because I believe that customers know and understand integrity when they feel it from our actions, not when they read it in our words.
President and Chief Executive Officer of LifeVantage (LFVN). After more than 26 years of experience, co-founding two successful multi-level-marketing companies, and a long, successful track record of growth across the industry, Darren Jensen is delivering results, driving growth, and setting a standard of excellence. And he does it all with a down-to-earth approach that puts people first. With a diverse background and a passion for service, he takes a unique approach that combines human understanding, 3-dimensional insights, and a lot of hard work into pioneering new science and a thriving company.
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