“Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching you.” (C.S. Lewis)
Have you (or someone that you’ve known) ever said something to the effect of ‘It doesn’t matter if I do what’s right. Nobody notices anyway.’ or ‘Nice guys finish last’. Well, I have a little story that I always think of when it comes to integrity and character.
When I was just starting out as an assistant college basketball coach in Indiana, I got to know a guy named Lani Czarniecki. I actually rented an apartment from him and worked for him on the side. The apartment I rented from him had a bed that folded out of the wall. When I needed to make the bed, I just pushed it back up into the wall and what do you know . . . I now had a living room again! But anyway, I digress because this story is not about my room that was the apartment equivalent of an El Camino, but rather about integrity.
You see Lani was running for mayor . . .
He had a large following in the town of about 60,000. But he was running against the incumbent who Lani knew well. Lani knew of some weaknesses that the incumbent had that probably would have cost him the election. During the entire campaign, Lani ran a positive campaign. He did not engage in any of the negativity surrounding the mayoral race. Lani ended up losing a close race.
However, a young radio talk show host noticed this race and was impressed with Lani and his character. He asked Lani to join his team as he ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which he accepted. For more than 15 years, Lani has served side by side with this politician as he went to Washington as a high ranking U.S. congressman and then back to Indiana as governor. Eventually, Lani would continue serving at his side as they went back to Washington, where Mike Pence would become the Vice President of the United States.
When Lani chose to run a positive campaign and rise above the mud-slinging and negativity, he had no way of knowing that those choices would one day lead him to work for the Vice President of the United States. He did it because that is who he was.
I will always think of this story as an example of integrity getting noticed even though that was not why Lani did the right thing. Vice President Pence values integrity so much that he has kept Lani close by through the years. Oprah Winfrey once said, “Surround yourself only with people who lift you up.”
A mayoral runner-up years ago demonstrated the integrity and character that can lift others up. It was noticed.
Do you have the type of true integrity that others notice? Do you have a character that is real and genuine? Are you someone that can lift others up and encourage others to be their best?