Character: use reminders to live with integrity.

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The first C of trustworthiness: Character.

The question being asked of you: “Do you walk your talk?”

If you walk your talk, you have integrity.

  • Honesty is aligning your words with reality.
  • Integrity is acting in accordance with your words.

When you don’t walk your talk, you’re a hypocrite.

People can be hypocritical for a variety of reasons.

  • Avoid pain or discomfort.
  • Acting without thinking.
  • Fatigue – physical, mental, or moral.

Sometimes you think you’re acting with integrity, but others see it differently. That’s why we need truth-tellers.

I don’t believe most people act hypocritically with intention. Usually it’s for two reasons:

  1. They never devoted time and energy to determining for themselves what their values are. You can read about values from a book, or a sermon, or observations of what others say and do, but unless you invest in deciding for yourself — and then act accordingly — your values will be shallow and easily compromised for the reasons above.
  2. They didn’t establish a process of routine reminders. Over time, they act hypocritically because they lose touch with their values. One small compromise leads to another and after a while they are far removed from the person they desired to be.

Examples of routine reminders:

  • Photos and posters
  • Holiday and anniversary celebrations
  • Prayer or meditation before meals
  • Journaling
  • Keeping a weekly scorecard (see Ben Franklin’s example)
  • Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the Star Spangled Banner
  • Attending church regularly
  • Family meetings and dinners
  • Professional, collegiate, and social reunions
  • Drafting a values statement that is reviewed monthly
  • Wristband, watch, ring, lapel pin
  • Post-it note on mirror to see first thing in morning
  • Writing an essay for “This I Believe”

Reminders are only as powerful and effective as we invest in them with our creativity, our knowledge, and our commitment to make them meaningful. To be meaningful, reminders must speak to our hearts, which will engage our heads, and then affect our behavior.

Be a High-Trust Leader: stay on the high road of walking your talk with routine reminders of your values, promises, and responsibilities.