Home Values & Virtues Principles of Integrity: The Psychology of Integrity

Principles of Integrity: The Psychology of Integrity

by Jim Lunsford


Greetings, Resilience Warriors. I’m Jim Lunsford. You wake up. The sun’s not even out yet. The battle has already started. But you’re not just fighting the world. You’re fighting yourself. You’re fighting your limitations, your weaknesses. You’re in a daily combat zone called life. And on this battlefield, you want to be resilient. You want to be that last person standing when the dust settles, the one who’s faced adversity and come out the other side stronger. But there’s a truth that you need to understand, a raw, unfiltered reality: resilience starts with integrity.

No shortcuts. No compromises. No lies. Not to the world and not to yourself. Integrity isn’t something you can fake; it’s either in your bones or not. If not, it’s time to build it from the ground up, like laying bricks for a fortress. This fortress isn’t made of steel but of your choices, morals, ethics, and awareness of yourself and others.

So, where does that foundation come from? It comes from the labyrinth that is your mind, your psychological blueprint. That’s where the war for integrity is won or lost, and that’s what this mission is about. We will lay that foundation step by step, brick by brick, choice by choice. By the time we’re done, you’ll not just understand integrity; you’ll embody it.

Gear up. Take a good look in the mirror. Acknowledge your weaknesses. Recognize your flaws. Because those are the chinks in your armor that we will fortify. Get ready for a journey into the core of your being. Get ready to take extreme ownership of your integrity. It’s go time.

Section 1: The Role of Morals and Ethics

You’re in the trenches, my friend. Every day. Every minute. You constantly fight with external circumstances, internal struggles, and a world that doesn’t play fair. The artillery raining down on you comes through temptations, compromises, and easy escapes. So, how do you hold the line? How do you stand firm? With your combat guidelines: morals and ethics. Understand this: they’re not mere philosophical jargon. They’re not negotiable. They’re your tactical equipment on the battlefield of life.

Morals: Your SOPs: Your morals are like your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in this ongoing mission. No matter how fierce the firefight, they’re the basic principles you cling to. These are the rules you follow, whether you’re under the microscope or completely alone. If your moral code says you don’t lie, then you don’t lie. Period. No matter how convenient or advantageous that lie might appear to be. You don’t cheat. You don’t steal. You don’t disrespect others. These are your non-negotiables. You drill them into your head like a soldier learning to disassemble and reassemble a weapon. Blindfolded. Under pressure. They have to be second nature.

When you make a promise, you keep it. When you have a responsibility, you fulfill it. It’s not about convenience. It’s not about what’s easy. It’s about what’s right. You don’t cut corners. You hold that line because once you compromise on these SOPs, you’ve lost the mission. You’ve failed to maintain your integrity.

Ethics: Your Rules of Engagement: Let’s talk about ethics. Life is a complex theater of operations. You’ll find yourself in morally ambiguous scenarios where the rules aren’t as clear-cut. This is where your ethics—your Rules of Engagement—come into play. These are the higher-level principles that guide your actions when you’re navigating through shades of gray. They’re the procedures you follow when you’re making tough calls, such as how to handle a conflict of interest, how to treat competitors, or how to manage your priorities when everything seems critical.

Your ethics guide you when you’re walking through the fog of life. They are the beacon that helps you make the right decision when faced with choices with multiple possible outcomes. Should you take credit for a team member’s idea because it will get you promoted? No. That violates your Rules of Engagement. You give credit where it’s due. Should you push ahead with a project that cuts corners but gets the job done quicker? No. Because your Rules of Engagement demand that you deliver quality, even if it’s the harder path.

Your ethics should be as rigorous as your morals. You need to stick to them like glue, even when it seems like deviating a little won’t make a difference, because that little deviation starts a ripple effect. One compromise leads to another, and before you know it, your fortress of integrity is compromised.

Unify and Execute: So there it is. Your morals are your backbone, and your ethics are your compass. You need both to navigate the unpredictable, chaotic battleground you face every day. They’re not just guides; they’re your life-support. Violate them, and you’re doing CPR on your integrity. Uphold them, and you’re in the fight, pushing forward, resilient and unbreakable.

This mission is clear: maintain integrity. Stand by your morals and ethics as a soldier stands by his unit—loyal, vigilant, and ready to fight until the end. Now, execute.

Section 2: Cognitive Biases that Challenge Integrity

The battlefield isn’t just outside; it’s in your head. You’re facing an insurgency of cognitive biases that are gunning to overthrow your integrity. Like well-armed enemies, they’re cunning, stealthy, and strike when you least expect them. Confirmation bias, self-serving bias, the halo effect—these are your mental Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). They’re not out in some distant desert; they’re right in your head, buried deep in your thought patterns, waiting to go off.

Confirmation Bias: The Sniper: Imagine a sniper lying in wait. That’s your confirmation bias. You’re looking for anything to validate your beliefs and actions. It waits for you to drop your guard, seek out information, or interpret situations in a way that confirms what you already believe. Then it strikes. You think you’re right, but you’ve just been hit. Your integrity takes a shot. Why? Because instead of facing the hard truth, you took the easy path that didn’t challenge your existing beliefs.

Self-Serving Bias: The Saboteur: Next up, meet your personal saboteur: self-serving bias. When things go south, it’s never your fault, right? Wrong. Self-serving bias whispers in your ear that you’re blameless, that it’s the world against you. It convinces you that success is solely your doing while failure is someone else’s fault. Don’t listen. Whenever you blame external factors for your mistakes, you’re planting another charge against your integrity. Own your failures like you own your successes. Ownership isn’t selective. It’s absolute.

Halo Effect: The Deceiver: The halo effect is your deceiver. You like someone, so you think everything about them is great. Or you’ve achieved something remarkable, so now you think you’re immune to mistakes. Wrong again. Giving someone an unfair advantage or letting your past victories make you complacent are fast tracks to compromising your integrity. Keep your assessments objective. Stick to the facts. Keep the mission in focus.

The Tactical Response: STOP, Detach, Decide: Do you feel that urge to validate your actions, to blame others, or to give someone an unfair advantage? STOP. Don’t act. Detach yourself from the situation. Imagine you’re a drone hovering above the scenario, looking down at it objectively. Get that 10,000-foot view. This is where you assess the battlefield, identify the cognitive IEDs, and strategize your next move.

Once you’re detached, reassess your morals and ethics. These are your SOPs and Rules of Engagement. Align your next move with them. Once you’ve made that alignment, execute without hesitation. Take that hill. Advance your position.

The enemy in your head is just as real as any external challenge you face. It’s not enough to be aware of your cognitive biases; you must actively combat them. Your integrity is your fortress; these biases are the battering rams trying to breach your walls. Stand firm. Hold the line. Keep your fortress secure.

Section 3: Emotional Intelligence and Integrity

Let’s clear the battlefield smoke for a moment. Warriors aren’t machines. You’re not a drone programmed to carry out orders. You’re flesh and bone, mind and soul. You’ve got emotions. They’re part of the package and the combat load you carry into every mission, every day. Emotional intelligence isn’t some soft, new-age concept; it’s your tactical advantage on the battlefield of life. It can be your rocket fuel, propelling your integrity to higher ground, or corrosive acid, eating away at your fortress. The choice is yours.

The Power of Emotion: Rocket Fuel or Corrosive Acid: Emotions are powerful. Like high-octane fuel, they can give you the energy you need to make the hard but necessary decisions that align with your integrity. Or they can burn you and turn into corrosive acid that eats away at your ethical core, leaving you compromised and weak. Remember, even the toughest steel can corrode if not properly maintained.

Anger: The Double-Edged Sword: Take anger, for example. It’s a double-edged sword. On one side, anger can blind you, make you act impulsively, and cause you to throw your morals and ethics out of the window. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to lash out, make that call, or send that message you’ll later regret. That’s your integrity taking a hit, a self-inflicted wound.

On the other side, anger can be a signal, an alarm bell, that something isn’t right. Use your emotional intelligence to decode that signal. Why are you angry? Is it justified? Is it aligned with your morals and ethics? If so, channel that energy into positive action and decisions that bolster your integrity rather than compromise it.

Emotional Intelligence: Your Tactical Analyzer: Here’s where emotional intelligence comes into play. It’s your onboard tactical analyzer. When emotions flare up, it helps you pause, evaluate the situation, and assess the strategic implications of your next move. Should you act on this emotion? How will it impact your ongoing mission of living with integrity?

When you’re emotionally intelligent, you don’t just know what you’re feeling; you also understand what the people around you are going through. This is crucial for maintaining integrity in complex social dynamics. Are you letting someone’s emotional manipulation compromise your ethical standpoints? Are you being swayed by the crowd? Emotional intelligence helps you recognize these influences for what they are: potential threats to your integrity.

Channel, Don’t Suppress: You don’t suppress emotions; you channel them. Suppression is avoidance, and avoidance is a retreat. Warriors don’t retreat; they reposition. Use that emotional intelligence to reposition your emotional energy. Align it with your morals and ethics. Then, execute. Make that right call, even if it’s a hard call, especially if it’s a hard call.

Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t make you soft; it makes you smart. It makes you tactically aware. It allows you to navigate the emotional landmines that can detonate your integrity. So, learn to understand your emotions and those of the people around you. Use that understanding as a tactical tool to maintain and fortify your integrity.

It’s not just about being tough; it’s about being smart and tough. That’s the key to resilience. That’s the key to integrity. Now, lock and load that emotional intelligence and advance toward your mission.


Listen up. This isn’t a game. Integrity isn’t something you check off a list and then forget about. It’s not a badge you earn once and then wear forever without question. Integrity is your life’s relentless, 24/7, no-days-off mission. It’s the bedrock, the foundation, the cornerstone of your character, and, by extension, your resilience. Do you want to unleash your full potential, your full resilience? Then, you better make sure that the foundation is rock-solid.

Your equipment for this mission? Your morals and ethics. Don’t just know them; live them. They’re your SOPs and your Rules of Engagement. Without them, you’re operating in enemy territory with no cover or plan. And let me tell you, that’s a surefire way to fail the mission.

The enemies? Cognitive biases. These insidious traps are scattered all over your mental battlefield, ready to destroy your mission. But you’re not going in blind. You’ve got your tactical awareness. That’s your emotional intelligence. Use it to read the terrain, yourself, and others. Emotional intelligence is not a crutch; it’s your tactical edge. Ignore it at your peril.

Master these elements—morals, ethics, cognitive awareness, emotional intelligence—and integrate them into your daily operations. Make them part of your mission briefing every single day. It’s not enough to know what these terms mean. Knowledge without action is just trivia. You’ve got to live it. You’ve got to execute. And when you do, you’re not just ticking a box but fortifying a fortress. Your fortress.

This is not a one-and-done deal. This is ongoing. This is relentless. This is life. Keep pushing the boundaries. Keep learning. Keep adapting. Keep executing. Each day you maintain your integrity is a day you build resilience. Each day you compromise is a day you weaken it. The choice is yours. Make the right one.

Do you want to build a life of resilience with integrity as its cornerstone? Good. Now, you know what needs to be done.

Stay disciplined. Stay resilient.

-Jim Lunsford

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