There was a certain chill in the air, as I walked out of my house, with the clock striking three. The stillness of the night had not yet given way to the open arms of the dawn. The leaves rustled with the slow westerly breeze that was rushing past. I walked with certain quickness, with the tapping sound of the shoe reverberating, as if telling the snakes, “Nay!!…thou shalt not cross mine path”. A patient with a surgical problem had come, and I whistled past to have a look at his problem and find a cure. The hospital was quiet with patients still in slumber. An argument caught my ear. Two patient relatives were telling a hospital staff, to tell the doctor to refer the patient for an MRI scan. I quietly stood in the dark to hear. There was a good incentive involved, Rs.1500/- for the staff and Rs. 5000/- for the doctor. The Hospital staff thought over it for 10 minutes. I liked what the Hospital staff, who gets a meager Rs. 5000/- as salary said. He said, “Out here the decision of a referral definitely lies with the doctor but I wouldn’t even tell him this and he wouldn’t do such a thing. We are a hospital that treats well within the limits of Integrity.” How true I thought. Every day in the Medical Profession I arrive at a decision making crossroad, with one road called Integrity and the other called Money. Robert Frost’s lines still ring very clear
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
(Excerpted from the Poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost)
An Integrity filled life is a daily process that doesn’t end until your life does. My experiments with this truth called Integrity, tells me that there is that initial disappointment associated with Integrity that one has to overcome to actually pursue it. Questions arise about what’s integral in Integrity that it needs to nurtured and followed. We actually fall in that initial disappointment zone. We suddenly argue for the immediate benefits overlooking the eternal honour. At every such dilemma I found these following rules of Integrity to life quite life saving
Decide now, not later: Many men have not thought through their personal value system. They’re not sure who they are or what they stand for, and they wait until the breaking of a crisis to make their decision. At that point, it’s too late. Faced then with great pressure, you will be more prone to take the route which is easier in that moment. Decide now what you will and will not compromise on. Then, when faced with ethical choices, the decision will have already been made.
Quit the rationalisations: There’s always a million reasons to compromise your integrity. You hear them on the news every day as corporate bigwigs struggle to justify their fat bonus checks. You can always come up with justifications that seemingly make good sense and let you sleep better at night. But at the end of the day, when you place your rationalisations on a scale next to integrity, you’ll realise you sold out something priceless for a measly pittance. There’s nothing more valuable than your good name and the ability to look at yourself in the mirror each day with a clear conscience.
Don’t take the first step : When a great man falls from grace, we often wonder how he could have ever messed up so royally. The truth is that he didn’t wake up one day and decide to commit an egregious blunder. It started with a little fudging here, a tiny bit of lying there. From there he just kept on sliding down the slippery slope of compromise. Don’t compromise on the little things, and you won’t on the bigger ones.
Don’t justify the means for the end: This is probably the most popular rationalisation for breaking with your integrity. In reality, the journey towards an accomplishment or decision is just as important as the destination itself. Even if you are richly rewarded at the end, if you cannot look back on the means used to get there with anything but shame, your victory will be hollow indeed.
Take personal responsibility for your life: At the heart of integrity is the ability to own up to the fact that you are in control of your life. You are responsible for both your successes and your failures. Nobody else but you.