Honesty, humility, introspection, patience, fair-dealing, courage, self-discipline, respect for others—these are surely among the core traits of a life of integrity. For that reason, they are the keys to a successful career, a fruitful life, and a clear conscience.
Many years ago, I came across a few sentences by an unknown author, called “What the World Needs.” I’ve since added some related thoughts of my own:
The world needs more men and women who do not have a price at which they can be bought; who do not borrow from integrity to pay for expediency; who have their priorities straight and in proper order; whose handshake is an ironclad contract; who are not afraid of taking risks to advance what is right; and who are as honest in small matters as they are in large ones.
The world needs more men and women whose ambitions are big enough to include others; who know how to win with grace and lose with dignity; who do not believe that shrewdness and cunning and ruthlessness are the three keys to success; who still have friends they made twenty years ago; who put principle and consistency above politics or personal advancement; and who are not afraid to go against the grain of popular opinion.
The world needs more men and women who do not forsake what is right just to get consensus because it makes them look good; who know how important it is to lead by example, not by barking orders; who would not have you do something they would not do themselves; who work to turn even the most adverse circumstances into opportunities to learn and improve; and who love even those who have done some injustice or unfairness to them. The world, in other words, needs more men and women of character.
You and your parents have expended enormous time, energy, and expense in your education with the hope that it will further your career. You can go far with all those facts and figures you’ve learned, or you can flush them away. The deciding factor will be your integrity.
Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Foundation for Economic Education and the founder and president emeritus of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. This blog is an excerpt from the Institute for Humane Studies Policy Career Guide.
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