A close friend of mine called to tell me that his son regularly follows my posts. The other day his son said, “Dad, is the point Mr. Smith making a little thing or a big thing?” Well Ethan, today’s subject is a big thing. In fact, this lesson about personal integrity is as BIG as they get.

Here’s why…

I have been informally surveying some of my friends by asking them the following question. “When people violate their trust with you by being dishonest, do you ever trust them again?” Guess how they answered the question… 100% responded by saying “NO!”

The reason I asked this question was to determine if others feel like I do. When people have given me cause to question their integrity, I can forgive them; I can even love them; but it’s painfully hard to ever trust them again.

How about you? When people have been deceptive, misleading or have cheated or lied to you, do you still trust them? Trust is one of those rare things that when it is lost, it’s almost impossible to regain.

If you want to achieve long-term success in the business world, you must absolutely be a person of integrity. Sure, people can get to the top without integrity, but all we need to do is turn on the news or read our local paper to see they don’t stay at the top. Those people who lack integrity will eventually be exposed and when they are, their world will come tumbling down. Bernard Madoff’s fall is a classic example.

This past week I listened to an interview with Dave Ramsey on the Success Magazine monthly CD. Dave talked about best selling author, Tom Stanley’s books, The Millionaire Next Door and the sequel, The Millionaire Mind. Stanley’s research demonstrates that first generation deca-millionaires (those with a minimum net worth of 10 million dollars) statistically had 38 behaviors or traits in common. The number one value was integrity. Their vendors, friends and even their fierce competitors commented that they had fanatical levels of integrity.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible… If a man’s associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.”

Not only is personal integrity critical to achieving wealth, but it is also significant in building a strong self-image. After all, how can you feel good about yourself when you are doing things you shouldn’t be doing?

Integrity is equally important in our personal relationships because it is the foundation from which all great friendships and marriages are built. Nothing will destroy a friendship or a marriage faster than a lack of trust.

Not only do you want to be viewed as a person of integrity, but over time you want to be viewed as a person with unquestionable or as Tom Stanley says, “fanatical integrity”. Unquestionable integrity means people who know you won’t ever question your integrity because you’ve never given them a reason to do so. This level of integrity is built over time by being authentic, forthright and always doing what’s right.

After this lesson I hope it goes without saying, don’t ever—even once, for any reason—do something that could cause people to question your integrity. No matter what it is, it isn’t worth it in the long-term. Few things spread faster than the fact that someone can’t be trusted. And besides, when you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.
“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.” –W. Clement Stone

About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 29 years and founder of Little Things Matter. Sign up to receive Todd’s daily lessons at www.littlethingsmatter.com.

Author's Bio: 

As a dynamic entrepreneur for 29 years, Todd Smith has enjoyed extraordinary personal and professional success. He owned his first business at 18, became one of the youngest Realtors ever inducted in to RE/MAX's Hall of Fame at 28, and for the past 20 years Todd has owned his own sales and marketing business. His business has generated more than one billion dollars in sales and has paid him more than 23 million dollars in commissions.

Todd's goal for this blog is to teach the little things that matter in achieving greater success.