Integrity is a standard of personal morality and ethics. It is not relative to the situation and doesn’t sell out to expediency. It’s short supply is getting even shorter. But without it, leadership is a façade. In the human context, it has been defined as being honest and having strong moral principles. Its synonyms include, honesty, uprightness, probity, rectitude, honor, honorableness, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, nobility, high-mindedness, right-mindedness, noble-mindedness, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness and many good virtues you could add.

In the Roman Empire’s final corrupt years, status was conveyed by the number of carved statues of the gods displayed in people’s courtyards. As in every business, the Roman statue industry had good and bad sculptors. As the empire became increasingly greedy and narcissistic, the bad got away with as much as they could. Sculptors became adept at using wax to hide cracks and chips in marble and most people couldn’t discern the difference. Statues began to weep or melt under the scrutiny of sunlight. For statues of authentic fine quality, carved by reputable artists, people had to go to the artisan marketplace in the Roman Quad and look for booths with signs declaring “sine cera,” which translates to, “without wax.” We, too, look for the real thing in friends, products, and services. In people, we value sincerity more than almost any other virtue. We expect it from our leaders, politicians, media outlets, business leaders, and sports greats. And most importantly, we must demand it of ourselves.

The integrity that strengthens an inner value system is the real human bottom line. Commitment to a life of integrity in every situation demonstrates that your word is more valuable than a surety bond. It means you don’t base your decisions on being politically correct. You do what’s right, not fashionable. You know that truth is absolute, not a device for manipulating others. And you win in the long run when the stakes are highest.

To remind us of our responsibilities to live without wax, with sincerity and integrity, let us took at the rewriting Edgar A. Guest’s poem, “Sermons We See”.

I’d rather watch a winner than hear one any day.
I’d rather have one walk with me than merely show the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear.
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.
And the best of all the coaches are the ones who live their deeds.
For to see the truth in action is what everybody needs.
I can soon learn how to do it if you’ll let me see it done.
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true.
But, I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give.
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
I’d rather watch a winner than hear one any day.
Don’t tell me how to live. Show me by your actions.

When you talk to others, don’t try to impress them by talking about your accomplishments. Let your actions speak for you.