Some people try to appear honorable in order to win the admiration of others. Although this may be true, they have it all backward. The real benefit of being honorable isn’t in how others view you, but rather, in how you view yourself. When you live with integrity, you don’t have to worry about inconsistencies, remember what you said to whom, or play games. There’s no need to fear embarrassment, no need to hide in the shadows or to live in shame. When you live with honor, you’re comfortable in your skin and totally authentic. As former Senator Alan K. Simpson said, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”
12 Ways to Live with Honor and Integrity
People with honor share twelve characteristics. They should be treated as guideposts in your journey through life:
Value integrity. Recognize who you are and the values that you aspire to. Provide others with the confidence of knowing that your intentions and actions are always genuine. Be prepared to compromise your viewpoint, but never your principles.
Be true to yourself. In staying true to your beliefs, be sure to do right by others and to always take the high ground. Trust your instincts rather than seeking validation from others. You have to live with yourself for the rest of your life.
Keep good company. Surround yourself with honorable people. Support each other. Allow them to serve as role models and sounding boards that inspire you to become a better you. And look for ways to help others grow in honor and integrity.
Be confident. Don’t let your behavior be influenced by others who do not share your values; hold yourself to a much higher standard –– your conscience. Your character is on display every moment of every day. Make sure it reflects well on you and causes people to feel proud to call you a friend.
Do what’s right. Make good choices. Follow the spirit as well as the letter of the law. At the center of the United States Military Academy is the Cadet Honor Code, which states “A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” Care not only about where life is taking you, but about how you’re getting there as well.
Be honest and transparent. When you stand for honesty, everything you say carries the voice of credibility. But when you’re dishonest, your soiled reputation will do the speaking for you. The fact is, honest people never fear the truth.
Honor your word. Every time you make a promise, you put your honor and integrity on the line. Keeping that promise should be as important to you as it is to the recipient.
Be loyal. Meaningful relationships don’t happen by chance. When you live with honor, people know your behavior is reliable, your heart is in the right place, and your word is as good as gold.
Accept personal responsibility. Be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions. Knowing what’s right isn’t as important as doing what’s right. Be aware that yours will not always be the most popular road traveled.
Be resilient. Hard work and sacrifice build character, contribute to success, and promote happiness. It was this very reality that moved the former baseball player Sam Ewing to observe, “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”
Make a difference. Be a positive force in people’s lives. Make people feel special; bring out the best in them; help them without expecting something in return; be genuinely happy for their achievements. The more you do for others, the happier you’ll be.
Live for a cause greater than yourself. Find your life’s purpose. It will inspire you, keep you grounded, and provide stability regardless of the turbulence in your life. Most of all, living life with purpose will motivate you to get up in the morning and make your life meaningful.
Do Yourself the Honor
There’ll come a time when temptation will come knocking at your door. It’ll promise you riches or something equally as grand. Don’t surrender. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. It’s sad to say that some people will give in to a moment of weakness and spend the rest of their lives regretting it. They’ll rationalize the situation by thinking “What are the odds of getting caught?” Or they’ll say, “Everybody does it,” “It’s only one time” to help them sleep better at night.
But the question remains, what is your honor worth to you? The answer is that it’s priceless. What’s more valuable than being able to look into the mirror each day with a clear conscience? As the author H. Jackson Brown, Jr., said, “Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.” Equally important is that you will respect yourself. One of the true tests of integrity is your refusal to compromise your honor at any price. Can your integrity be bought?