Compromising our integrity is not a requirement of success. Our success does not depend on the sacrifice of our morals. Step four of the twelve-step program states, “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” We must never sacrifice our values. For what are we if not our values? Who are we if we do not stand for anything?
On the topic of integrity and success, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“I wonder, have I let my integrity slip in order to succeed? Have there been times when I was willing to look the other way or take the easy way out in order to avoid conflict or gain acceptance?
Every day we are offered opportunities to sacrifice our integrity on issues that may be of the utmost importance or on ones that appear insignificant. Without our integrity, there is no way that we can feel good about ourselves. Success and loss of integrity are not synonymous. In fact, true success requires great integrity.
These ‘little’ incidents of integrity slippage eat away at us like termites. How important it is to stop and take a look at the decisions we have made! What a relief it is to know that our valued integrity is there deep within us and that we can reconnect with it at a moment’s notice.”
I often take the easy way out to avoid conflict or gain acceptance from my peers. It has been a hard-won battle to learn to disagree, to stand firm on my beliefs in the face of conflict, but it has been worth it. It’s true that these instances of giving in chip away at ourselves. It never feels good to take the easy way out. Instead, I often feel guilt and shame. Better to stand by my beliefs and be hated for them than to be liked for being someone I am not. When we lose our integrity, we lose a part of ourselves. This is a lesson I am finally starting to learn. What’s most surprising to me, yet also in ways not surprising at all, is that people tend to like me for who I am and indeed like me better even for my honesty. People respect someone who has integrity. Better yet, we are able to respect ourselves when we stay in tune with our own values and stand by them.