The luxury of integrity

October 22, 2009

Integrity’s not a hard call. But it’s one some people have trouble with.

Someone I know and like wanted some advice and counsel on a thorny issue they were facing.

Actually, they didn’t want advice and counsel. What they wanted was help implementing what they believed to be the solution.

The solution was wrong. Not morally wrong. Not ethically wrong.

But it was the wrong tactic, the wrong strategy and will end up biting them in the ass.

They may win the battle. Get a momentary feel-good. But they’ll lose the war.

I know this beyond a reasonable doubt. Based on a 30+ year career.

So I refused.

I didn’t just refuse. I refused and laid out why. That I would not be even a small part of something that I thought was absolutely wrong. That would end up hurting that person.

Things like this came up from time to time in my consulting practice. Pushback was always a fine line, because you really didn’t want to lose the client. Especially a powerful one.

Unlike some of my colleagues, I usually said what I thought and actually, it kept me (and got me) more clients than it lost me.

But I know this person and it’s always been hard not to help them.

In this situation, I felt good laying it on the line. Stepping away from any part of what I knew would be a destructive path. But not before pointing out just how destructive it was.

I led this horse to water. They are probably not going to drink. But I walked away knowing I did the right thing.

Sometimes integrity can be a luxury.

For me, though, integrity as a way of life has always worked out.

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless; and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful. ~Samuel Johnson

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