by Benjamin R. Case, President, Case Consulting Services, Inc.
When is it important to have integrity? Some of the time or all of the time? My friend Ben Case, President of Case Consulting Services, has been a hallmark of integrity as long as I have known him. And he tells a powerful story to explain to importance of integrity.
Before I started Transformational Impact LLC, I worked with Ben. He is reputedly one of the best major gift fundraisers in the world, having helped nonprofits raise more than $4.3 billion in his 40 years of fundraising. And he shares his expertise six days a week in the Tip o’ the Morning, a one-minute read covering the basic principles of fundraising (and sometimes life) that we need to know and practice to be successful.
Even though I no longer work with Ben, I still occasionally write a Tip o’ the Morning. And I am pleased to post an occasional Tip from Ben on my blog. Here’s Ben’s Most Valuable Tip (MVT) #44 entitled, “When Are You Going to Have Integrity—Some of the Time or All of the Time? Integrity Means All the Time.
I know I should not be writing this Most Valuable Tip. I should know better. It is a little too truthful. But the truth is, there are still moments when I must strive to act with integrity.
I really like the word “integrity.” It is a quality I deeply admire. The definition of integrity is clear. Merriam Webster defines integrity as: “The quality of being honest and fair. The state of being complete or whole. Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values. Incorruptibility. An unimpaired condition. Soundness. The quality or state of being complete or undivided. Completeness.”
Any questions about what integrity means? Oh sure, I know what it means. Yet, integrity is something I strive to achieve. Sometimes having and acting with integrity just does not come naturally to me.
There are many reasons. I am a creative person. I like to stretch the limits and test the boundaries. The kid in me sometimes wants to see what I can get away with—just this one time and no one will ever know. When the rules don’t fit, I sometimes prefer not to play. Situations can still intimidate me. I can be overwhelmed. I can lack confidence in my own perspective. I can make bad judgments because I am too tired, worn down, and exhausted.
So, here is what happened a few years ago.
I was in a meeting with my wife, Angela, and Robert McFarland, at the time a consultant with our company. (Tip readers may now know Robert as the author of the internationally best-selling book Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew and a writer of an occasional Tip o’ the Morning.
I was deeply resisting something Angela insisted I do. Angela thought that, as a business owner, I was required by law to do this. Our lawyer acknowledged there were “gray areas” as to the applicability of the law to our work. Give me “gray areas” and I will run with it forever. I did not want to do what Angela was telling me to do!
Then Robert, who had been observing the discussion and my strong resistance, simply asked, “Ben, when are you going to have integrity—some of the time or all of the time?”
MVT #44 is a lesson I strive to remember every day. I bring it today in case you need to remember it too: Integrity means all the time. When you need to, please pause and remember this MVT. Live with integrity. In the walk of life, you will always be glad you did. Integrity means all the time.
P.S. I did follow my wife’s advice, and am glad I did. And if you want to, buy Robert’s book, which I highly recommend.