Earl Nightingale was a 20th century American radio broadcaster and author, who, per his Wikipedia, “[dealt] mostly with the subjects of human character development, motivation, and meaningful existence.” In 1956, Nightingale released The Strangest Secret, an inspirational, spoken-word production. Indeed, Nightingale, inspired by Napoleon Hill’s mantra, “We become what we think about,” was an early pioneer in the self-help industry in his own right.
Today, I’ve transcribed a short clip in which Nightingale addresses, “The Power Of Integrity,” in terms of its ability to improve the quality of life. Some people are of the opinion that lying and cheating are the way to get ahead. Granted, there are cases in which short-term expediency clashes with integrity. However, in the long term of life, a lack of integrity tends toward bankruptcy, both relationally and economically.
Integrity is a formula for lasting success because there are no lies to kill relationships, no crimes to be accounted for, no guilty consciences to be assuaged, and no sleep to be robbed from one’s eyes. It makes sense, then, to speak of integrity in terms of power and self-interest, which are additional motivation to act consistent with one’s values.
The seed for achievement is integrity. Integrity means honesty and the truth. Perhaps it was best put in the famous line by Shakespeare, when in Hamlet he has Polonius say, “And this, above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.”Earl Nightingale
For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.
Transcript Of Earl Nightingale On Integrity
In this message, let’s talk about a principle that never fails. Following this particular idea gives quality and richness to life. It will also produce a peace of mind that never wavers, and the principle is integrity. [Integrity] is a great idea that gets a lot of lip service, but it’s seldom a true way of life. How people love and value a person of integrity, integrity in everything we do, in all our relationships with others, integrity in what we say, integrity in our work.
But the word integrity often conjures up a person of stern and sober visage who walks the straight and narrow. That’s not the kind of integrity I’m talking about. I’m talking about integrity with a sense of humor, integrity with understanding, integrity with kindness and gentleness, but integrity all the same. Never expediency. Never saying, “Well, everybody else is doing it. I guess it won’t hurt if I do it, too.” But it does hurt. If it’s wrong and we know it’s wrong, it does hurt.
The seed for achievement is integrity. Integrity means honesty and the truth. Perhaps it was best put in the famous line by Shakespeare, when in Hamlet he has Polonius say, “And this, above all, to thine own self be true. And it must follow as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
If we are true to ourselves, we cannot be false to anyone else. If our word to live by is integrity, we have what we need in a pinch, our sleep is untroubled, and we’re respected everywhere that we go.
During the Korean War, the Chinese Communists overran an American position and captured an American General. He was subjected to weeks of the worst kind of treatment, brainwashing, and questioning. He never gave in. Finally, he was told that unless he answered their questions, he would be executed the following morning. That night, he wrote a letter to his wife and at the end of the letter, he said, “Tell Johnny, the word is integrity.”
As it turned out, he was not executed, and he was later repatriated to American forces. But thinking he was going to die, he told his son that the word is integrity.
Integrity means to try as best we can to know ourselves, to examine ourselves, as Socrates advised, and make a true assessment of ourselves, an inventory of our abilities, our talents, what we want, our goal.