Integrity is a word that doesn’t get used all that often these days. I often wonder if that’s because it’s such a rare quality.
When people hear the word “integrity”, it’s often associated with being religious, but while a woman with integrity may be religious, the character trait has nothing to do with religion or religiosity.
Let’s be clear about what integrity is:
A woman of integrity is one who does what is good and right, regardless of the personal, political, financial, or professional cost. And not just sometimes, but all the time.
She has a strong sense of what she stands for, what she will and will not do, and she sticks to that every day, in every situation, no matter what. It’s who she is.
Aung San Suu Kyi: An Example of a Woman with Integrity
The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and de facto leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, is a famous example of a woman of integrity.
Her story is a long and difficult one, and I encourage you to learn more about her (I’ve included some resources at the end of this article). I won’t go into detail here.
To make a long story short, Aung San Suu Kyi has spent her life upholding her high moral ideals for honesty, freedom, and responsibility while facing oppression, strong, violent opposition, imprisonment, intense pressure, and threats of death.
You can watch a depiction of her boldly facing down the guns of her military opponents at 1:30 in the following clip from the 1995 movie Beyond Rangoon. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you watch it (it’s available on Amazon Prime).
For years, Aung San Suu Kyi has stood true to her ideals to be a shining example of doing the right thing – all the while knowing that her stance could cost her freedom, her reputation, her family, and even her very life.
You don’t need to be like Aung San Suu Kyi and face such egregious forces to be a woman of integrity, though.
Be warned, though:
Acting with integrity is never an easy path. Setting high standards for yourself, knowing what you will and will not do, and then living it consistently – even when no one else is looking – is difficult.
But the rewards are great, as well:
- You stand apart from the masses
- You create a legacy that will likely outlive your earthly life
- You become a role model for others and thereby improve our world
- People willingly trust you and know who you are
- You feel alive, confident, in control, and secure in the knowledge of who you are
Here are 40 ways you can better become a woman of integrity:
Be a Woman of Integrity in Daily Life:
- Let others know what you believe, and back it up with congruent action 100% of the time.
- When you make a mistake, say so. Take responsibility; don’t hide. Don’t lie.
- When the cashier undercharges you or gives you too much change, point it out.
- If you took something that wasn’t yours by mistake and no one saw, give it back.
- Be altruistic. Give back.
- Help lift someone else up emotionally and mentally.
- Be a mentor and/or role model to someone who’s down and out.
- Don’t expect others to be perfect all the time. Don’t expect it from yourself, either.
- Know who you are and act like it. Stand upright with your head up and shoulders slightly back. Don’t apologize when you haven’t done anything wrong. Don’t mumble your words, shuffle around with your shoulders slouched and your eyes peeled to the ground. Check out the 101 Questions for Greater Self-Awareness workbook for more help on self-awareness.
- Don’t complain.
- Ditch the excuses, both to yourself and to others. Take responsibility for your actions.
- Don’t be a different person at home than you are at work or out in your social settings. Be who you are wherever you are – regardless where you are or who’s around you.
- Calmly accept the consequences of your actions. No one’s perfect, and neither are you.
- Be impeccable with your word (See The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom). If you say it, do it – even if it’s hard or you later no longer want to. If you don’t intend to do it, don’t say it. Your word is your word – period.
Be a Woman of Integrity at Work:
- When something goes wrong and it’s fully or partially your fault, say so – even if no one else suspects it was you. Be honest and real, even if there are repercussions.
- Congratulate others when you see them acting with integrity.
- Congratulate others when good things happen to them, especially when you’re jealous of them or you think they didn’t deserve that promotion.
- Don’t shove your work onto someone else. Handle your responsibilities.
- Don’t gossip.
- Speak positively and in a non-violent and assertive way.
- Don’t belittle.
- Speak with confidence, even when you’re nervous. Be confident in who you are.
- Never cheat or cut corners to get ahead.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses and work to improve both.
- Forgive the imperfections in others.
- Don’t pretend to be something or someone you’re not.
- Don’t take what’s not yours, even if it’s small and insignificant and “no one will know”.
- Learn how to be decisive. Don’t pass the buck or flip-flop back and forth. Make the best decision you can and stick to it. Face the consequences with equanimity.
- Don’t use people to get what you want.
- Keep your ego in check.
- Give 100% of your effort, even when you’re in a bad mood or don’t feel like or when you don’t agree with something or someone.
- Follow the rules, even if you don’t agree with them. When you’re in someone else’s ball field, you play by their rules. If the rules are wrong and you feel strongly about it, leave and go somewhere else. Or open your own ball field where you set the rules 😊.
- Don’t take credit for someone else’s work. If your boss comes up and tells you you did a great job but you know it really wasn’t you, give credit where credit is due. If it was your work, give credit to the little people who helped you along the way.
- Speak up for what’s right. If you see goings on that are harmful or illegal, take the risk and be the whistleblower.
Be a Woman of Integrity in Relationships:
- Speak honestly with your kids, parents, significant other, and friends, even when it’s difficult.
- Don’t nag.
- Don’t judge. Let people be who they are and let them follow their own paths. Their path doesn’t have to be the same as your path.
- Don’t call people names or put them down. Be a force of good and help them become the best versions of themselves.
- Consider things from others’ points of views, not just your own. Try to see where they’re coming from.
- Walk away if you have to. Don’t lower your standards or debase yourself for people who don’t have the same level of standards as you do.
- Set aside time for reflection. Who do you admire as a person of integrity? Learn more about them. Think about ways to be more like them or incorporate their positive traits. Analyze yourself and note areas where you can improve.
- Treat the janitor, the homeless person, the drug addict with the same level of respect you give to those you look up to. They are all humans with the same basic needs and wants, trying to get through life the best way they know how. Show compassion.
- Don’t cheat on your partner. If it’s over, leave first. Then pursue outside interests.
- When someone tells you something, hold it in confidence. Don’t tell anyone else. They trusted you when they told you, and the information was meant solely for you. Be a vault. Show people you are trustworthy.
- When there’s conflict in relationships, sit down and discuss it openly. Write a letter if need be. Don’t just blame the other – take responsibility for your part, too.
You Can Be a Beacon of Integrity
Being a woman of integrity is not a decision you make once. It’s made with thousands of tiny decisions, made consistently day in and day out for years.
Today we hear of people cheating the system, lying, acting underhandedly, stealing, and so forth on a daily basis. CEOs get caught stealing or duping their investors or polluting the environment. Parents shirk their basic responsibilities. Children disrespect teachers.
Integrity is a rarity.
But when we encounter someone with integrity, we immediately take notice. We stand in awe and want to spend time with that person. They inspire us to become better parents, better friends, better humans.
You can be that person.
The one who does the hard stuff and never wavers in their convictions. The one who values honesty and goodness over personal gain.
All it takes is a decision. Decide today. And tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that.
That’s how you become a woman of integrity.
FOR MORE INFO:
To learn more Aung San Suu Kyi, check out some of these resources:
- The Voice of Hope – an interview with Aung San Suu Kyi (New York Times)
- Beyond Rangoon (1995 movie) (highly recommend! Available on Amazon Prime)
- Is Politics Aung San Suu Kyi’s Vocation? (Nature, 2019)
- Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Democracy Icon Who Fell from Grace (BBC)