Integrity is a concept that rests upon consistency of expectations, principles, values, methods, measures, actions and outcomes. Integrity differs from honesty in that Integrity is a subjective concept and one can only judge the integrity of others per the values, beliefs and principles they claim to uphold. Ultimately, we are the only ones capable of defining and measuring our integrity. The higher the standards we set for ourselves, the higher the standard we can set for our clients, peers, friends, and family.

Law professor and social-policy writer Stephen L. Carter sees integrity “not only a refusal to engage in behavior that evades responsibility, but also as an understanding of different modes or styles in which discourse attempts to uncover a particular truth.”

Carter claims that integrity requires three steps: discerning what is right and what is wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong.

How we define integrity, the social and cultural value we place upon it, and the extent to which we hold  individuals and entities (both public and private) accountable to their claims and for their actions will dictate our future. Let’s see if we can’t set our standards a little higher.

Larger image available at flickr.