A word of advice to those who are striving for a reputation of integrity: Avoid those who are not trustworthy. Do not do business with them. Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them. Do not allow yourself to get enticed into believing that “while they may be dishonest with others, they would never be dishonest with me.” If someone is dishonest in any aspect of their life you can be guaranteed that they will be dishonest in many aspects of their life. You cannot dismiss even those little acts of dishonesty, such as the person who takes two newspapers from the stand when they paid for only one. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the simplest matters of honesty, how can they possibly be trusted to uphold lengthy and complex business contracts?
It is important to realize that others pay attention to those you have chosen to associate with, and they will inevitably judge your character by the character of your friends. Why is that? It is best explained by a quote my father often says when he is reminding me to be careful of the company I am keeping: “When you lie down with dogs you get fleas.” Inevitably we become more and more like the people we surround ourselves with on a day-to-day basis. If we surround ourselves with people who are dishonest and willing to cut corners to get ahead, then we’ll surely find ourselves following a pattern of first enduring their behavior, then accepting their behavior, and finally adopting their behavior. If you want to build a reputation as a person of integrity then surround yourself with people of integrity.
There is a plaque on the wall of my office that reads: “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” It serves as a daily reminder that success will indeed come and go, but integrity is forever.
Amy Rees Anderson is the founder and managing Partner of REES Capital, a Mentoring and Angel Investing Firm. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her daily blog at www.amyreesanderson.com/blog