Building Social Capital

Building Social Capital
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The economy had been growing fluidly for most of the Roaring Twenties. It was a technological golden age of innovation and investment growth. But all that would come spiraling down in November of 1929 when Wall Street crashed. Just days previous to November 11th the market was at an all time high of 381 points. Over the next several days the Dow Jones Industrial Average would lose 89% of its value before finally bottoming out in July 1932. The crash was followed by the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis of modern times and it took our Country years to recover and rebuild. But there are things that can take much longer to rebuild and recover from.

Billy Graham, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Tony Dungy, Mahatma Gandhi, Tim Tebow. Different gender, different races, religions, upbringing, challenges, failures and successes. Yet there is a common thread. Integrity. I like to call it Social Capital.

There was a time when a handshake sealed the deal. Today it's pens, contracts and room of lawyers because of pride, position, prestige, and profits. It seems we no longer live in a world where a man’s word is his bond, where actions speak louder than those penned on paper. Where has integrity gone?

The world is looking for integrity. I recently did a Google Trends search for the word integrity and what I discovered proves the point. I found the word Integrity was searched for 2,921 times. That’s an average of 50 times a minute. People only search for something that is lost or cannot be found and it seems a lot of people are looking for integrity.

So what is integrity…how do you get it…how do you keep it…and how do you lose it? If we’re going to answer these questions its best we understand what the word means.


1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral2. the state of being whole and undivided.

C.S. Lewis said it best when he said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

How do we get it? Integrity is built with small deposits of trust. It starts out by people taking a chance on you. A chance that when you say what you will do you will do what you say. The first time you trust it’s a risk, a leap of faith. Building integrity is not a fast process. It can be painstakingly slow but there are no short cuts. The cycle can be sped up if you have been observed doing what you say you were going to do otherwise it is making deposit, after deposit, after deposit of trust to that persons account until they are comfortable that integrity is the rule…not the exception.

How do we keep it? That part is simple. Be consistent. "Stay the course," as George Bush said. It’s funny how when we do things and get the same results, good results in this case we are often tempted to accomplish the same thing in a different way. My experience has taught me this rarely, if ever happens. Continue to do what you did to build that integrity by making those deposits. Deposits of truth, deposits of hope, deposits of encouragement, deposits of kindness, and deposits of love. Those are the deposits you take to the Bank of Integrity.

How do we lose it? That’s simple too. Lie. Even one little white lie is enough to destroy your integrity. How do I know? I know because I’ve broken a trust. My lie, my deceit was the beginning of the end of my 33 year marriage. Despite counseling and new level of transparency with my former wife I was unable to rebuild that trust. Some fences become stronger when mended but some you never get a chance to fix. The planks lay broken and rotting in the field. You’ve not only damaged your integrity but you’ve damaged the faith of another. The faith they had in you. They wonder if all those deposits of hope, encouragement, kindness, and love were a lie. Were they just flowery gestures and words that were self serving? Maybe, maybe not but now your cup is empty and you have to start over again. What a waste of time and effort from one…little…lie.

The truth can be hard, but tell the hard truth. Your Integrity is at stake. And integrity is at the core of everything we are and everything we do. It's the foundation for your success and the parachute for your failures.

Integrity-the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral.

Do you want to persuade people, influence them? That takes credibility that is built on a foundation of integrity. You can no more be a true persuader without integrity than you can be a true leader without followers. I like what Bob Marley says about integrity;

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”

That’s the kind of wealth I want to take to the bank!

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