This is the seventh in our series of articles about The 8 Keys of Excellence, which serve as a foundation for our leading residential teen summer camp, SuperCamp. See our Intro article as well as links to previous Key articles here: The 8 Keys of Excellence: Principles to Live By.
Match behavior with values. Demonstrate your positive personal values in all you do and say. Be sincere and real.
Living with integrity is about always making sure that our words and actions align with our values. Values are the things we believe in—they define who we are, how we want to live our lives. Our values give meaning and depth to our lives. If we value curiosity, we’re open-minded and interested, we want to explore and discover. If we value family, we spend quality time with our family. If we value courage, we persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty. That’s integrity.
When we live with integrity we have a strong character and a clear conscience, and we feel good about ourselves. Our words and actions are a true reflection of who we are and what we believe in. People see that our actions match our words . . . we don’t say one thing and do another. People trust us. Our relationships are solid. We are sincere and real. We are content and fulfilled.
What do I value?
The concept of integrity sounds simple, but there is one catch. Before we can follow our values, we need to ask ourselves a question . . . What do I value?
Integrity is first about knowing yourself—knowing what’s important to you, knowing your desires, your talents, your dreams—and then being true to yourself by living your values in everything you do and say in every area of your life. When we have clearly defined personal values, they’re our guidelines for how we live our lives, for the goals we set for ourselves, for what we do and say every day.
Take a moment to think about what you value. In fact, why not take more than a moment. If you don’t have some thoughts in mind about what you value, here are a few common personal values to get you started—and there are plenty of much longer lists online (just Google core personal values) if this short one doesn’t do it for you.
- Making a difference
- Personal growth
- Specific cause
You’ll find that some of your values are ingrained in you, having been part of who you are since early childhood. This process of looking deeper into your values will bring clarity and build self-awareness. As you consider your values, some of those entrenched values may not need to be part of your active list of current values. Give yourself some time to think about your personal values. As you do so, write down the values you feel strongly about. If you wind up with a long list, you’ll want to narrow it down some to come up with your core values—maybe around five values—those that really mean the most to you.
Bear in mind that your values may change as you gain life experience and move closer to goals—and adjust your list whenever it feels right. If you discover another value that excites you, add it. If you find one of your listed values is not really that important to you any more, delete it.
If your list of core values contains the things that mean the most to you, the things that truly define who you are, you won’t have any trouble remembering them in everything you do and say—and living with integrity!
How do my values show up in my life?
Living with integrity means that everything we say and everything we do are true reflections of what we value, what’s important to us. After you’ve defined what you really value, what’s important to you in life, give some thought to how you’ve spent most of your time in the past few days, or even weeks. Who have you been with? What activities have you pursued? What have you been reading? Are you spending your time with people and activities that align with your values, or is your focus elsewhere?
Living with integrity requires a high sense of awareness. Make it a habit to regularly check in on your values and how your behavior may or may not be aligning with them. If you’re struggling with a decision, check your values. And check your motivation—can you be honest enough with yourself to really admit why you’re doing something? Is what you’re doing a true reflection of your values, or a reflection of what you want at the moment? Do you show up as honest and committed? Do you ever show up as insincere or indifferent?
People who live with integrity use their values to steer their actions. They reflect, and then act. Their values motivate their actions because they choose their actions to harmonize with their values. Think about what your current actions say about you? Do the people around you have a clear picture of who you are? Do they know what you value?
Living a life of integrity brings self-confidence, fulfillment, and joy.
Choose your behavior to reflect your values and you’ll move through life with authenticity, sincerity, and wholeness. When you live with integrity, it’ll show. People will trust and respect you. Your relationships will be solid. You’ll be known for your strong character. When you live with integrity, you’ll enjoy a clear conscience, you’ll feel good about who you are and how you’re living your life.
And all those positive feelings—from others and within yourself—will pour into everything you say and do. They’ll reinforce your values and build your reputation and self-esteem, leading you to greater success in all areas of your life. Having a clear picture of your values helps you set goals that are consistent with your values. Together, your values and goals bring a sense of passion and purpose to your life—leading to greater joy and fulfillment.
Think in ink
Integrity is about character and consistency. A person of integrity is a person whose behavior consistently aligns with their values. Your integrity is a reflection of who you are. Take some time to consider integrity in your life and write your thoughts about the following questions:
- Have I clearly defined my core personal values?
- What are they? And how are they going to make me feel more fulfilled and joyful?
- When I think about my values and my behavior, do the things I do and say from day to day accurately reflect who I am?
- If someone who doesn’t know me observed me for a few days, what would my behavior say about me? What would that person think I value?
- What activities do I pursue that truly align with my values? What do I do on a regular basis? What do I do now and then? What could I do more of?
- Are any of my activities in conflict with my core values?
- Am I spending my time with people and activities that align with my values? Or is my focus often elsewhere?
- What can I do every day to make sure my behavior reflects my values?
- What can I do to be more sincere and real in my life?
“You are in integrity when the life you are living on the outside matches who you are on the inside.”
About the Contributor: Since 1982, SUPERCAMP, Monthly Mentor, has inspired and empowered thousands of teens to feel confident and motivated, and to excel in school and beyond. SuperCamp offers six-, seven-, and ten-day residential programs for students in middle school, high school, and first-year college. Living on a college campus is a great experience for teens and most of our grads go directly to a four-year college after high school. As teens from around the world gather at SuperCamp, they are inspired to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve, and they acquire learning and life skills that empower them to thrive in all areas of their life. Read More…
(See what some recent grads have to say about SuperCamp at www.supercamp.com/student-testimonials.)