Home Values & Virtues Principles of Integrity: Defining Integrity

Principles of Integrity: Defining Integrity

by Jim Lunsford


Greetings, Resilience Warriors. I’m Jim Lunsford. Listen up; this is critical. The backbone of every effective leader is the unspoken contract that defines every real relationship—it’s not something you find lying on the ground. It’s not given; it’s earned. I’m diving deep into integrity. It’s the fuel that burns in the engine of your character when you’re alone in the dark, faced with hard choices. It’s the indomitable spirit that pushes you to press forward when failure lurks around every corner. Don’t mistake it for a mere concept or a good-to-have trait. Integrity is not just a word; it’s the very essence of who you are as a human being. This is no hyperbole. This is a fact. In the brutal, unforgiving, and complex battlefield that is life—professional and personal—integrity is your most formidable weapon. It’s your shield, sword, and armor against the constant artillery of challenges and decisions. So tighten your straps and get your game face on because we’re going deep into the nuts and bolts of what makes integrity the keystone in the arch of your life. 

Section 1: Defining Integrity

Listen carefully. Integrity is not a checkbox you tick off or a badge you sew onto your uniform. It’s not just being righteous in the spotlight; it’s about doing the right thing when you’re alone—when there’s zero expectation for you to do so. When the world is breathing down your neck, urging you to compromise, integrity is that unbreakable backbone that says, “Not today. Not ever.”

The dictionary says it’s “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” But let’s not sugarcoat it; it’s the real, raw world we’re talking about. In the trenches of life, integrity is your psychological body armor. It’s the moral compass that keeps you on track when everyone else is wandering aimlessly or following the herd down a treacherous path. You get what you earn in this world, and integrity is the currency that fills your moral bank account. Bankrupt that account, and you’ve got nothing left. Zero.

This is your character we’re talking about—the very essence of your being. It defines you as a leader, friend, or family member. It’s not just a nice-to-have. It’s non-negotiable. Compromise your integrity, and you compromise yourself. And once that’s gone, what’s left? A hollow shell. A facade. So when we talk about integrity, know we’re not talking about some abstract, ivory-tower ideal. We’re talking about the very concrete that lays the foundation of who you are and upon which the edifice of your life is built, got it? Good. Now, let’s move.

Section 2: The Components of Integrity

Hold the line because we’re diving into the core components of this beast: integrity. It’s not a one-trick pony; it’s a complex creature built of multiple elements. So get your notebooks ready because this is a five-part blueprint for building a rock-solid character.

  1. Honesty: No beating around the bush here. Speak your truth. If you say you will do something, you better do it. Make promises you can keep, and keep the promises you make. No sugarcoating, no dancing around the point. Words are cheap; integrity is expensive. Your words must be as solid as steel. Anything less is unacceptable.
  2. Accountability: Own your actions like you own your name. Make a mistake? Step up. No blame-shifting, no finger-pointing. Whether at the helm or in the trenches, take full responsibility for your actions and their outcomes. Good or bad, it’s on you. And guess what? When you’re accountable, people notice. They see you as a pillar, a cornerstone they can rely on.
  3. Consistency: Have you ever seen a chameleon? Changes colors to fit its environment. Don’t be that. Be a rock. Unwavering, unyielding. The world around you will change; friends, jobs, circumstances—they all change. But your integrity? That’s your ground. Stand on it. Don’t adapt your principles to fit the situation; adapt the situation to fit your principles.
  4. Resilience: Listen, the world will throw every possible obstacle in your path. People will doubt you. They’ll try to deter you. But resilience in the face of adversity—that’s integrity. No shortcuts. No backdoors. Face the storm head-on, and if you get knocked down, you stand back up. You don’t stay down unless you’re out; as long as you’re breathing, you’re never out.
  5. Respect: It’s simple. You give it, you get it. Disrespect corrodes integrity faster than acid. Treat people how you want to be treated. Period. It doesn’t matter if it’s the CEO or the janitor. Show respect, and you’ll earn it back tenfold. Fall short on this, and you’re compromising the integrity you’ve worked so hard to build.

Five components. Five pillars that hold up the fortress of your integrity. Each critical, each irreplaceable. Neglect one, and the whole structure starts to wobble. So keep them in line, keep them solid, and you won’t just walk the path of integrity—you’ll own it.

Section 3: The Weight of Choices

Pay attention. This is where the rubber meets the road. Choices. They’re the crossroads where you stand, sometimes daily, sometimes hourly. And let me tell you, these aren’t lightweight decisions. No, sir. These choices echo in the halls of your future, reverberating through the core of who you are and who you’ll become. They’re not just ripples in a pond; they’re tidal waves in the ocean of your life.

The easy way out? A mirage. A fleeting shadow that promises comfort but delivers a wasteland. You see it there, beckoning you. “Come, take the easy path,” it says. But move closer, and what happens? It disintegrates into sand, leaving you stranded and questioning your judgment. Remember this: short-term ease equals long-term pain.

When you’re at that crossroads, staring down the barrel of a decision, ask yourself: Will this action erode my integrity? Say it out loud if you have to. Write it down. Tattoo it on your soul. If the answer is yes—if it will compromise the fortress you’ve spent a lifetime building—then it’s a no-go. Detour. Full stop. Steering clear is not a sign of weakness; it’s a display of strength. It shows you know your worth and are unwilling to auction it off for some momentary gain.

Because let’s be clear: your integrity is not a one-off deal. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It’s the total of every single choice you make in your life—from monumental decisions to seemingly trivial ones. It’s the bricks and mortar that construct the monument of your character, and every poor choice is a chisel, taking a piece off that monument. So don’t undermine your legacy for something as cheap as the easy way out.

Choices weigh heavy, but their weight shapes you and molds you into a fortress that can withstand anything. Make them count. Make each choice a cornerstone in the legacy you’re building. Because you’re not just making decisions for today; you’re setting the standard for the rest of your life. Choose wisely.

Section 4: Integrity in Leadership

Alright, lock-in. Do you want to be a leader? I hope you’re ready for the grind because leadership is not a title; it’s a responsibility. And the crown jewel of that responsibility? Say it with me: Integrity. You might have the strategy, the skills, and the charisma to be a leader, but without integrity, it’s like having a ship with no rudder—you’re going nowhere fast.

Trust—listen to this—is the lifeblood of leadership. It’s not earned through slick speeches or strategic brilliance. No, it’s earned through unwavering integrity. Why? Because the people you lead are not just looking at your actions; they’re taking an x-ray of your character. They’re peeling back the layers to see what you’re made of. And if what they find is an integrity deficit, you’re done. You’ve lost before you even started.

So, what does leading with integrity look like? It means you don’t just talk the talk; you walk the walk. You set the standard, and then you meet it. Every. Single. Time. No days off. You’re the first one in and the last one out. You make the tough calls and own them; come hell or high water. You’re not just in charge—you’re at the forefront, showing the way. You’re the North Star in the chaos, the beacon in the storm.

Leadership with integrity means your word is non-negotiable. When you say you’ll do something, not only do your team members believe it, they know it. They take it to the bank because you’ve proven time and time again that your integrity is the currency that never devalues.

And when you screw up? You own it. No excuses. You stand before your team, and you admit your failings. Why? Because integrity in leadership is about accountability. It shows your team that you’re human but committed to growth and improvement. And guess what? That drives them to be better, too. You elevate the entire game.

So, if you want to lead, don’t just aspire to be in charge—aspire to be an example. Be the standard against which every action is measured, against which every decision is weighed. Let your integrity light the path, and watch as others follow. Because a leader with integrity doesn’t just create followers; they create more leaders. Lead the way.

Section 5: The Price and the Prize

Listen up. This isn’t a game. This isn’t a drill. Integrity isn’t something you acquire for the price of a cup of coffee. It’s steep, the cost. Unforgiving. It’s a series of tough calls, hard decisions, and often—let’s be clear—pain.

  1. The Cost of Hard Choices: Every day, you’re on the battleground of choices, standing on the front lines facing the enemy called Temptation. And Temptation has an army: the easy way out, the moral shortcut, the compromise. Each of these adversaries is poised, ready to strike at your integrity. And fending them off? It’s a brutal fight. It requires resolve. Steeliness. A hardened will.
  2. The Cost of Standing Alone: Sometimes, upholding your integrity means standing solitary on an island while everyone else sails by, shouting and waving for you to jump on board their ship of compromise. But you stand firm. You plant your flag in the ground of your convictions, and you do not waver. It’s lonely, but it’s right.
  3. The Cost of Personal Loss: Real talk—Integrity can cost you friendships, opportunities, and maybe even your job. People might call you stubborn, hard-headed, or unreasonable. But that’s a small price to pay. Because if a relationship can’t withstand your integrity, then it’s not a relationship worth having.

So, what’s the payoff? What’s the prize at the end of this grueling marathon?

  1. Unshakeable Self-Respect: When you lay your head on your pillow at night, you do so with a clear conscience. You know who you are, and you know you’ve done right. That’s self-respect, and it’s rock-solid.
  2. Unbreakable Bonds: The people who stick by you, who respect your uncompromising standards—those relationships are unbreakable. They’re your tribe, your comrades-in-arms, and you’re a force to be reckoned with.
  3. Unwavering Trust: The currency of leadership is trust, and you’re a billionaire. People don’t second-guess your decisions or question your motives. They know you’re the real deal. And that trust? It builds armies. It wins battles. It turns the impossible into the achievable.

So stand by for action. The price of integrity is steep, but the prize? The prize is something that no amount of money can buy, and no level of fame can earn. It’s the bedrock upon which your life is built and the legacy you leave behind. And let me tell you this: That prize is worth every ounce of struggle, every moment of pain, and every hard-fought victory. Keep fighting. Stand strong.


Alright, this is it. It’s the end of the line, but really, it’s just the beginning. Integrity—it’s not just a word you scroll past in the dictionary. No, it’s a lifelong contract. It’s a binding agreement you make, not with your parents, boss, or closest friends. It’s a pact you forge with the person who stares back at you in the mirror every morning.

This isn’t just some fluffy concept or an abstract idea. This is gut-check, in-your-face reality. This is about standing tall in the worst storms, taking the hits, and swinging back harder. It’s about that gut-wrenching moment when you look yourself in the eye and ask: Do I like this person? And answering with a resounding “Yes” because you’ve lived a life of integrity.

Let me tell you, there are a lot of routes you can take in life. A lot of shortcuts and easy exits. But the path of integrity? It’s not the path of least resistance. It’s riddled with obstacles, uphill battles, and moments that will test the very fiber of your being. But make no mistake: it’s not just the right way to live; it’s the only way to live.

So, gear up. Tighten those straps and lock that helmet in place. Load up on the ammo of unyielding principles and uncompromising morals. Why? Because life isn’t some skirmish—it’s all-out war. It’s a relentless battle for your soul, character, and essence. And in that war, integrity isn’t just your best weapon—it’s your only shield and sword. It’s the iron-clad ally that never falters, never betrays, and gives as good as it gets.

Stand by your integrity, and mark my words: it will stand by you. Through the trials, the hardships, and the fires of life, it will be the one thing that remains unbreakable, unshakeable, untouchable. So make the commitment. Seal the pact. Live a life that would make your mirror image proud. And when the dust settles, and the smoke clears, you’ll know you fought the good fight. Integrity was your ally, and together you were unbeatable.

Stay disciplined. Stay resilient.

-Jim Lunsford

Listen to this post:

Subscribe to the newsletter:

Other subscription options:

Related Articles