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How We Drift Away from Integrity and into Hypocrisy

Few people set their sights on being a hypocrite. Most of us believe that Integrity is important and want to see ourselves and have others see us as people of Integrity. So how do we become something less than that? We drift into it. I did. Maybe you can relate to my drift away from Integrity and into hypocrisy.

I was blessed to live in a home with two parents who were there all the time. They not only preached Integrity but also set the example in Integrity as well. Then I went to West Point where we had an Honor Code, and I was again educated about and surrounded by leaders who demonstrated Integrity. But later in life, I still drifted away from what I knew to be the good, right and proper things to do.

Integrity: Doing what is good, right and proper, even at personal cost.

I use the word drift, because it was not one major decision that turned me into a hypocrite. It was a series of small choices that over time, took me further and further away from the person and the leader I had always wanted to be.

Imagine a ship crossing the Atlantic from Spain to New York. If that ship gets one degree off course, that is not a big difference in the short term. But by the time that ship reaches the other side of the Atlantic, they could find themselves in South America! That was me. Each little deviation away from Integrity, over time, took me further and further from who I wanted to become. I wasn’t paying attention to those choices.

With each choice, I rationalized away my decision with ideas like:

● It’s the way business is done.

● I don’t want to hurt my relationships.

● It’s such a small thing.

Fortunately, I recognized I was off course. But I had to make some major changes in my life and my attitudes in order to get back on track and restore my image of myself and the image others had of me.

The key for all of us to avoid that drift - some call it Moral Drift - is intentionality. Instead of drifting, we must paddle in order to stay on course. We must pay attention. We must pay attention to our Integrity in the small choices and the big choices. Because when it comes to our Integrity, they are all big choices.

With each choice we make, we are either getting closer to being a person of Integrity or further from it. We are most susceptible to rationalizing away our choices if we are not consistently intentional about who we want to be.

Those rationalizations are even more powerful in stressful situations. We can all come up with plenty of reasons to make the easier yet wrong decision in the short run. But if we are in the habit of choosing Integrity and not allowing ourselves to drift - even one degree - away from doing what is good, right, and proper, we will be less likely to drift when the decisions get harder.

“Nobody drifts towards excellence in anything. You have to be intentional.”

- Dave Keller, Professor Texas A&M University, USAFA graduate


● Are you drifting away from Integrity or paddling towards it?

● Where do you need to get more intentional about your Integrity?


Here is a quick assessment that will take you 5 minutes to figure it out. Nobody will ever see your results but you.

Warning: If you are not going to be honest with yourself this is a worthless assessment.

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