Last week, CEEK’s President, Steve Wiley, had the pleasure of speaking with approximately 70 students from James River High School in Midlothian, VA. These students were recognized for the demonstrating ethical behavior in and out of the classroom. Steve offered a broader definition of Integrity as a foundation for not only living an ethical life, but also living a life of personal peace and fulfillment. He refers to this as the Three W’s of Integrity:
- Honor your Worth
- Honor your Word
- Honor your Wholeness
Steve equates the Worth component as the most common and traditional definition of Integrity—Honesty and Ethics. If you lie, cheat, or steal, you devalue your Worth. We often correlate this form of Integrity to doing the right thing when no one is watching. Steve stressed that rarely do significant lapses of this form of integrity just happen. Rather, they are the culmination of progressive events characterized by expanding boundaries of acceptable behavior.
Steve introduced the other two forms of Integrity, Word and Wholeness, as the necessary foundation that will enable one to honor their Worth. He stressed the societal pressure, on kids in particular, to always do more and its impact on their ability to honor commitments. When we are overcommitted, we are unable to honor our word and become more susceptible to unethical behavior. Let’s teach our kids to manage commitments and not just build a resume.
Steve then spoke about Wholeness as the most critical element for a life of integrity and ethics. Recognizing the pressure on kids to perform for the approval of others, he stressed the significance of Integrity as a complete or whole entity. He challenged the kids to be self-aware and authentic. Live your life in a manner consistent and at peace with who you are and what you value. You relieve yourself of the pressure to do or be something or someone you are not. Steve equates this aspect of Integrity to doing the right thing when everyone IS watching.
Finally, Steve shared the concept and examples of life guardrails that enable us to maintain all three forms of Integrity. Such guardrails protect us from the accumulation of lapses that lead us down an undesirable path.
“I really wish the entire school could have heard your message. You definitely have a message that needs to be heard by many. ” Jane Crooks, the event organizer and parent of a JRHS student
To learn more about the three forms of Integrity and associated guardrails, you can watch the entire 17 minute presentation. If you are interested in engaging Steve to speak at your school, conference, or corporate event, simply send us an email.