The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines integrity as a “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” Most people feel it shares company with words like ‘honesty’ and ‘morality’ but it’s neither of those things.

Integrity is “doing what you said you would do, when you said you would do it.” In short, it’s about fulfilling your commitments to others and yourself.

Breakdowns and Excuses

It’s exceedingly difficult to be in integrity so let’s do a simple test of my definition. You told your friend “meet me at Starbucks at 9:00 am” and you showed up at 9:10 am. You’re out of integrity because you arrived 10 minutes late. That budget you agreed to have done by end-of-day Friday but didn’t actually work on.

You’re out of integrity because you didn’t do what you said you would do…work on the budget.

Where else in life do you fall out of integrity?

Promised your kids to play with them “when you got done on the computer” but you’re still at the screen and they went to bed an hour ago. Told your friend you’d get him that list of books and three weeks later, still no list.

This is when we start dropping excuses. “Traffic made me late.” “There was more work than I thought.” “I got busy and forgot.” We use these excuses because we fail to plan our day, our week, our month, our year.

After years living in a particular area, you know the traffic patterns so stop pretending you don’t; the solution: leave earlier. Budgets don’t get created overnight and you probably learned that years ago. The expression “I forgot” should be obsolete in our present society with the plethora of technology: iPhones, To-Do software, etc.

Although your co-workers, friends, and family might let you off the hook they don’t buy your excuses. They’re just being polite.

Impact of Others

What does it say about your character and work ethic when you’re out of integrity? People can’t rely on you. You may be passed over for work projects you want. Your child is agitated because they waited an extra 20 minutes for you to pick them up. Your friend who really needed that list of books lost out on your expertise.

Let’s look at this differently. You didn’t meet that work deadline and your company lost a deal. Your child could have been assaulted by a stranger because school staff had left for the day. Your friend lost out on a great job opportunity. The consequences can be extreme when you fall out of integrity.

Impact on You

The person who loses out the most is you. Remember when you said “I’m going to exercise 20 minutes a day” and you haven’t started yet? Good health affects not just your enjoyment of life but that of your family. Still haven’t updated your resume or gone job hunting despite the fact you hate your current job? Your kids won’t be young forever. Neither will you. We have a short amount of time on this planet so don’t waste it.

Clean it Up

You just went out of integrity with someone. No more excuses -that’s what everyone else does – and you’re better than that. How do you recover and get back in integrity?

Apologize. Tell the person what happened and what you will do differently next time. Taking accountability for your actions is admirable because most people don’t.

Don’t procrastinate. If you know you aren’t going to make a deadline, alert someone in advance and as early as possible. This might be days in advance or just an hour…it depends on the situation. People don’t like surprises and giving them a chance to alter the course is far better than a crisis response.

Living in Integrity

It’s easy to fix. Rid yourself of excuses. Be accountable. Stop committing to things you can’t fulfill on. Pick one thing, such as being on-time, and start arriving 10 minutes early for
everything. Use that 10 minutes to catch-up on email, tell your spouse you love them, or take a moment to chill and be ‘in the moment.’

Live by the adage “how you do anything is how you do everything.” Assess yourself and make course corrections. Perhaps you need to start using that Getting Things Done system for real… not just when it suits you. Plan your day in a calendar. Use a timer.

Develop these new habits but start small. Feel good about a new habit then add another. And another. Eventually these new behaviors will become second nature and the Universe will reward you. You want to be someone that others can count on – no matter what happens.

You may ‘fall off the wagon’ but just get back on. Enlist the help of a trusted friend or coach to keep you accountable. We are in a world where mediocrity rules. If you live in integrity
you distinguish yourself above that mediocrity. What comes from integrity? Success in career, community, and relationships.

Eric Brodeur is a Motion Picture Editor residing in Los Angeles, CA. His recent feature film credits include BACKMASK (directed by Marcus Nispel of CONAN THE BARBARIAN and PATHFINDER), THE CONCERTO, FILLY BROWN, and THE SESSIONS. The latter two films in competition at the 2012 Sundance International Film Festival. Between projects he works on commercials for clients such as Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, and Pepsi. He has been featured in MovieMaker Magazine, Script Magazine, and a number of podcasts related to the film industry. He can be found at and @ebrodeur on Twitter.


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