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Integrity: Is What You Do When No One Is Watching

Posted on: Monday, February 4th, 2013

By:Tony Dungy

I recently tweeted that the three most important qualities of a leader are integrity, integrity and integrity. It received a multitude of re-tweets. You can’t be a true leader without integrity.

But what is it?

Tony Dungy says,

Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage.

That’s a pretty good definition and it reminds me of the story of the carpenter.

There once was a carpenter that was nearing retirement. He informed his contractor-boss that he planned to retire and spend more time with his wife and family.  He was tired and desired to live a life of leisure.

His boss was sad to see him go and asked as a personal favor if he would agree to build just one more house. The carpenter agreed.

In time, it wasn’t difficult to see that the carpenter’s heart just wasn’t in his work anymore. Because his work was unsupervised, it was easy for him to cut corners and resort to shoddy workmanship. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

The day finally arrived when he finished his work and the boss came to inspect the house.  The boss said, “That won’t be necessary, I know that you are a fine carpenter and have served me well for many years.”

Then he handed the front door keys to the carpenter and said “This house is my retirement gift to you.”

Imagine the carpenter’s surprise….and his shame.

If only he had known that all along he was building his own house.  He would have done a much better job.  But, now he was stuck with his own shoddy workmanship.

Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.

The life you are building is your house. You are the carpenter.  Every day you pound in a nail, put up a beam, or paint a room. Build is wisely, even when no one is watching.

That’s integrity.

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