The Upside and Downside of Integrity

“Change is guaranteed, progress is not”

– Tony Robbins

To be a person of integrity is very important for most people. Robert Cialdini, the author of “Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion” even claims that its a psychological drive and need that the majority of us have. It is so strong that many marketers use it to influence us. As an example: Ads of toys are shown on TV before Christmas. Kids see them, want them and parents promis their beloved ones that Santa Clause will put the gift under the Christmas tree. Right before Christmas, the toys start to get scarce and disappear-stressed parents buy something else instead. The kids are disappointed and still demand the original toy. Parents find themselves in a dilemma-they promised it!! They lose their integrity and even worse: send a bad moral signal to their children. What do they do next? Right after Christmas when the toy is back on the shelves (magically!), they go and get it. You see what happened here? Smart marketers made the toy disappear, knowing that parents will buy something else + the original gift once its back in the stores after Christmas! They know about the influence of integrity on our behavior!

Having integrity and being consistent is associated with he quality of being honest, having strong moral principles and being a good, honorable person in general. All traits that are undoubtedly important in our society.

But while these traits are highly desirable and help us to follow our own moral convictions and values and make “the right” decisions, integrity can also backfire!

How?

I listened to this speech by Tony Robbins when I realized the huge influence our need for integrity has on our development and effort for progress.

We all have certain ideas about ourselves. We created a picture of who we are and how we want others to see us! Staying consistent with the picture we painted of ourselves happens mostly automatically.

From “should” to “must”

Now, if a hobby athlete defines herself as strong, fit and healthy, she will make the time to work out no matter how busy her life is. It is a “must” for her rather than a “should”, because by staying in shape she stays consistent with her self-image! On the other hand, if a person is overweight and tries to change that by working out regularly, she will struggle mostly with her self-image rather than her low fitness level. This person may tell herself everyday that she is unhealthy, overweight and not athletic at all. This identity the person created for herself will constantly hold her back as her psychological need for integrity and consistency will keep her in her comfort zone and destroy every will to workout regularly.  It’s only when we start to change a perception about ourselves and make the vision we have a “must” rather than a “should” that we start to make a progress.

I know that I repeat myself here and even more so, repeat what thousands of personal development trainers and top performers pray every single time when you ask them for their advice: It’s all a mind game! We can’t control what is happening in the world, we can’t control all external factors, but its crucial to understand that we can always control our mind, control what we focus on, control how we define and see ourself and which reality we create about our life.

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