Practice what you preach

There are many definitions for the word “integrity”, but my personal favorite is found on Wikipedia:

Integrity comprises the personal inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from honesty and consistent uprightness of character.

An expanded explanation is given:

Integrity is holding true to one's values. […] Integrity is knowing what is important to you and living your actions accordingly.

What does integrity mean to you when running your business?

A colleague and I were discussing whether we practice what we preach when coaching our clients. I admitted that I hadn't, until recently. Let me explain…

In speaking with new entrepreneurs, many ask what are the most cost-effective strategies of marketing their business so they gain the most visibility, while gaining credibility. Among other strategies, I've advocated blogging as a great way of achieving those goals. However, I would dread the questions: “Do you have a blog?” or “What is your blog URL?” You see, I had not been practicing what I preach, which, to me was a violation of my integrity as a coach. My clients could no doubt tell that I was speaking without authority. The result? None of those I've recommended blogging to actually went ahead and did it; I probably spoke without enough conviction or I wasn't setting the example. Whatever my reasons were, it's not worth the compromise to my standards.

As you can see, I'm finally ‘living my actions accordingly.' I can now confidently encourage my clients to use blogging as an effective self-promotion tool, knowing that it helps me in my business.

What does integrity mean to you? Are you consistent in delivering that message? Do you firmly hold to your principles, strict ethical codes or high professional standards? Are you often tempted to undermine these principles and standards?

I believe that most clients will see through attempts to ‘preach' to them what you yourself aren't willing to do. Define your own meaning of professional integrity and live by it. Not only will you gain the respect of your clients, you'll attract those who hold the same values.

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