Being Human Has Its Drawbacks


I like this sentiment, but I guess the trick is having wisdom.

It is performance review time again. That wonderful time of year where you get to reflect on all the hard work you’ve done. The late hours. The nights and weekends. The extended travel. It is all worth it when your boss tells you that you did good job and your peers write nice things about you. Except when they don’t. Then it hurts.

Why is it that you can have multiple pages of gushingly amazing comments and then just one or two sentences at the end with some constructive criticism feels like a stab in the chest? Why?  Why do we have to be so….well…human?

This year I had to accept my humanity and swallow my pride knowing full well that sometimes I can’t always be what I’d like to be. The truth sometimes hurts, even when said in the gentlest of ways. We have to be able to listen to the truth and learn from it. One quote I like: “There is no better test of a man’s integrity than his behavior when he is wrong.” And so, with integrity, I’ll move forward correcting myself to the best of my ability.

I believe everything we do in life requires us to live with integrity. Most of the time people appreciate integrity. But not always. There was one piece of work I did this year that required a lot of integrity and, sadly, it was not well received.  Unlike the other piece of constructive criticism I received, this “constructive” comment was a direct attack on my integrity, whether the person realized it or not.

My closest friends know that I am a pretty easy going and flexible person. I can take a lot of grief and there is only one thing that really sets me off.  That thing? Any time I feel my integrity is being questioned. I can’t help it. There are many character qualities  a person could challenge, but none bother me the way an attack on my integrity does. It really gets under my skin.

Definitions of Integrity

The quality of being honest and fair  —Merriam-Webster

Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty —

Doing what is right even when no one is watching. — C.S. Lewis

When looking back at events in my life and sorting them into buckets, I’ve noticed a pattern. Every single hurtful instance that has left an indelible scar involves integrity — either someone attacking mine or the lack of integrity by someone else. It is the primary character quality that has shaped me.

I’ve also noticed it is the number one quality I look for in potential employees. It is the number one quality I expect in my managers. It is the number one thing I lecture my children about. And it is the number one thing I value in my friendships.

It took me years to piece that together. Seems obvious now. Integrity. It really, really matters to me. With integrity comes trust and honor. An attack of your integrity threatens everything you believe in.  C.S. Lewis was right. Integrity is doing what is right even when no one is watching. For me, I’ve never found that to be difficult. Doing what’s right when everyone is watching—sometimes that’s the toughest thing to do. But it is worth doing. What have I learned today? The truth hurts and people don’t always handle it well, me included. We are human, after all.

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