One of my mentors who has since retired rendered some very wise words to me regarding integrity. I'm not sure if these words are his originally. Perhaps they are an old saying from one of his mentors. Nevertheless, they are inspiring.
- If you have integrity, nothing else matters.
- If you do not have integrity, nothing else matters.
At first, this seems like a play on words. However it makes so much sense. And it points to some very fundamental human nature. There are some who will do what is expected of them – and even more – as a matter of course. On the other hand, there are some who do as little as possible and have no qualms about it. In the end, integrity (or lack thereof) is a very personal thing.
I'm certain that most of us fall somewhere in between the extremes on the integrity continuum. The bulk of us rest comfortably between absolute selflessness on the job and complete disregard for the mission statement, colleagues, and operations.
Even those of us who operate with a healthy integrity can have a string of bad days. For example, the considerate working titan can move along and perform well without interference from outside forces. If they hear of or see lazy antics of a colleagues or supervisor, they merely plod ahead and continue to do the best job that they can. However, there comes a time where others seem to get away with so much while those with high personal integrity does not seem to be rewarded. This brings disillusionment and frustration.
How do we pull ourselves out of a crisis in integrity? What are some of the ways that we can maintain great performance and refrain from obsession of the poor performance of others? Here are some tips:
Pride, comparison, accomplishments, and integrity all mix into a complex psychological concoction. But, above all, integrity remains very important. Without it, operations in all fields would be much less efficient. Innovation would fall. Initiative would drop.
- Remember to focus on your work rather than the work of others. True, some inconsiderate or inept colleagues may push work your way. It is up to you to assess what parts of that you will do. In other words, that which is under your control, is under your control.
- Don't borrow trouble. Obsessing about how much or how little someone else does will pull valuable time away from the job that you do. Your preoccupation with the work of others could lead to your diminished performance.
- This too shall pass. You'll find that the standard soap opera of your correctional facility will shift. There will be other stories, rumors, and foci.
- Vent in a healthy manner. Use a loved one or a friend and tell that person of your frustrations. Gauge the listener and do not unload too much. After all, there is a fine line between venting and complaining.
- Take on a new project. As your complete your assigned duties, new endeavors may help ease your worry about the work of others. In these endeavors need not be large and complex in order to be vocationally satisfying. For example, you may search an additional area on each shift, as time permits.
- Don't let the monster of guilt consume you. If you find yourself preoccupied with the actions of others and then you realize that your performance has slipped, it is rather easy to overcompensate. This may mean that you overextend your energy. While meaning to do more, you may actually accomplish nothing but mediocrity. Pace yourself and do not like guilt overwhelm you.
- Reality. Some things you cannot change. There is nepotism, favorites, blindness, and simply too much to watch. Others may not know how hard you work or how little others work. Each person has to acknowledge their own merits and abilities and accomplishments.
- Recognition is good but not necessary. True integrity involves a pride in doing a job well. When you are acknowledged or rewarded, that is nice. However, that doesn't mean that should happen all the time. In fact praise that is overdone is really diluted.
- Avoid self-righteousness. A superior attitude will awaken the monster of staff division. It is ironic and horrible that a person with high integrity can inadvertently introduce a vehicle for manipulation when their pride becomes over-weaned.
If you have integrity, nothing else matters.
If you do not have integrity, nothing else matters.
(If you are reading this, Dave B, my mentor, I appreciate the inspiring words.)
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