Editor's note: This article written by Amy Rees Anderson originally appeared on Forbes.com and is being reprinted with her permission.
Five incredibly important lessons can help you live better in your career and in your business:
First — Only do business with people of character and integrity. No matter what, never let yourself break that rule. It will never be worth it. Not ever.
Second — All the contract language in the world is useless if the people (or person) signing the contract lack integrity. That is a fact. If the person you are signing an agreement with lacks character and integrity then there isn’t a contract long enough to protect your interests in the deal. The inevitable result of entering into a contract with a person lacking integrity is being forced to pay out huge sums of money to attorneys in order to hold the other person accountable to keep his word.
Third — When you come across people who are arrogant and ego-driven in business, and those attitudes are reflected in the way they treat those around them, RUN! Run fast. You literally cannot run fast enough to get away from that, as any association with those types of people can only bring you down.
Fourth — When people in leadership positions show a lack of appreciation and respect for the people they lead, steer clear! Companies cannot survive without good people, and leaders who esteem themselves to be better than or above the people they lead will NEVER be able to retain great employees. Instead they will quickly create a culture that promotes self-centered, every-man-for-himself, power-grabbing people, and everyone loses in these situations — employees lose, clients lose and shareholders ultimately lose. Great organizations come from having great people on the team who focus on building and helping others, not from building a team in which everyone is focused on themselves.
Fifth — When you see something dishonest happening in the company you work for, and that company is unwilling to correct the dishonest behavior, find another place to work! Your reputation of integrity is your most valuable asset in your career. Protect it at all costs. Customers will remember your level of integrity, as will other employees, and their memories will extend far beyond your time at your current job. Always stand up for what’s right to leadership, and if they won't support honest behavior, then it’s time to find another job.
If we could all live life by these five rules, we would save ourselves a world of heartache, frustration and money throughout our professional lives. The sad reality is that we spend the vast majority of each day at work, which makes it critical to be surrounded by people of integrity we can trust and respect — people who will inspire and motivate us to become the very best people we can be.