From 1923-1930, Bobby Jones won 13 major championships in golf. His record was unmatched until 1973 when it was finally broken by Jack Nicklaus. One time, in a championship match that he was playing in, Jones drove the ball into the woods. As he was looking for the ball, he accidentally nudged it. Although no one saw him move the ball, he penalized himself one stroke (according to the rules), which caused him to lose the match by that margin. Afterward, when reporters praised him for his integrity, he responded that they might as well praise him and congratulate him for not robbing a bank.
In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, he talks about people being judged by the content of their character. The true measure of a person’s character is what they would do if they knew that no one would ever find out. To further pound this point home, I love the West Point honor code, which states, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”
Our integrity is the most valuable thing that we possess. It guides us through thick and thin. It gives others more of a reason to value and respect us. It increases our likelihood of having a positive influence on the world around us.
“The time is always right to do the right thing”, said MLK. That’s integrity in a nutshell.
Right is right even if no one else is doing it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone else is doing it. Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values, not on personal gain or convenience.
Until next time, remember that success is a choice. What choice will you make today?