1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.


Sometimes when I desire deeper insight I browse the Internet for quotes from well known souls who's wisdom has been well articulated. I searched for quotes on integrity but interestingly enough, though many described the concept, only one contained the actual word.

"If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-nigh useless, since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience the injustice of our fellows" - Jean Baptiste Molière

Or as someone else once said, "Why can't we just all get along?!"

Seriously though, what is integrity? Why don't we often hear, "Jim, he's a man of integrity"?

Abraham Lincoln once said of himself, "I never had a policy; I have just tried to do my very best each and every day."

What does it mean to do "one's best"?

Admittedly my "best" isn't someone else's "best" and it's certainly not Honest Abe's "best". How do we define that line for ourselves? For others?

"Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught." - J. C. Watts

"Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it." - David Star Jordan, The Philosophy of Despair

That sounds a bit closer to the mark. Now we're not just doing our best, we're doing something we know is right, something that's not exactly easy, and we choose to do it regardless of the reward. We don't have to rationalize or explain ourselves, we simply act in a way we believe, through wisdom and experience, to be correct.

I've often been witness to people knowing what's right, like being honest, but choosing to do the exact opposite. When I've asked "Why?" the most common answer I've received has been, "This is just who I am."

Shakespeare said it well in Hamlet, "To thine own self be true…" I find it strange how sometimes when we quote someone we pick and choose what's most agreeable to us while filtering out the rest. Here's the complete story behind the English playwright's iambic pentameter:

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."