There is no such thing a minor lapse of integrity.Tom Peters
At some point in life, you have to become extremely clear on what you stand for.
It’s not about knowing what you will become, it’s more getting serious about the how. Will you lie? Will you look for shortcuts? Would it be ok to blame a peer for someone you know they did not do, if that would mean getting a promotion? What if tomorrow you wake up with 10,000€ in your bank account due to a favourable mistake? And say you have 10,000€ in your account after saving for 10 years, what would you do with that? If you see somebody in pain, how do you react? If you see somebody in difficulty, how do you react?
We are all capable of giving top-of-mind answers to those and other similar questions, but there are two additional difficulties.
The first is aligning actions with words. Everybody would say they would help somebody in pain, and yet would they if that would be more than an hypothesis? How would they react to actually witnessing somebody in pain?
The second is making the answers absolute. Acting maliciously to get promoted to the role you have been worked for all your life is not more acceptable than acting maliciously to get promoted to a role you do not care about. If the mistake gives you an additional 10,000€, it’s the same as if it would give you 1,000,000€.
When achieving that kind of clarity around the journey, things get a lot easier. And when you maintain clarity even when it is darker, when cheating would be easy, when nobody is watching, then you’ll understand the role of integrity in defining who you are and what your part is in the lives of others.
There is no particular age at which this gets easier, so start today if you haven’t already.