I’ve been thinking a lot about integrity lately.
A quick google search finds a ton of great definitions; I find them interesting. Here’s a taste:
– “an undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting”
– “Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code”
– “Integrity as a concept has to do with perceived consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcome. People use integrity as a holistic concept, judging the integrity of systems in terms of those systems’ ability to achieve their own goals.”
Many years ago, a good friend of mine told me a story in an off-handed way that made a huge impact on me; I doubt he knew then (or even that he knows now) just how much it meant to me. He recounted how, when he worked as a legal secretary in a prestigious law firm in Los Angeles, he was going out to lunch with a car full of his lawyer friends; he was driving the car. He made an illegal left turn, and sure enough; a policeman was waiting and he was pulled over. When the cop came over to the car, he asked my friend if he knew why he had been pulled over. My friend answered “yes, I made an illegal left turn.” The police man asked for his license, registration and proof of insurance and then went back to the patrol car to write my friend a ticket. During the entire interaction, all of the lawyers were silent until the cop was out of earshot, then they all started yelling at my friend incredulously. They explained that you never, ever admit guilt to a cop, because then you decrease your chance of being able to successfully fight the ticket; he had made the cardinal “mistake” of a traffic stop! The answer my friend gave them was amazing; he said “yeah, like my integrity is worth $200!” The entire car was silent. So was I.
“Yeah, like my integrity is worth $200!” – wow. It really made me think. What’s my integrity worth? I reflected on my own life. I saw that I imagined that when some big, important thing happened I would prove to the world that I was a man of integrity. Perhaps I’d die for my wife or kids, or save someone from a burning building. But what about the small things? Was I willing to sell my integrity for a $.50 soda? For a $10 bill mistakenly handed to me by a cashier? How about for an extra $120 profit from an insurance claim via a kick-back from a contractor, or by inflating the claim?
Looking at the definitions of integrity above and at my own experience with integrity, I would have to say that the key is consistency; being the same on the inside and on the outside. Being the same in public and in private. Acting in a way consistent with beliefs, always. I’ve found that, given time, a person’s character shows through. Good or bad, it’s really impossible to hide one’s true character forever. Our thoughts and beliefs fuel our feelings and actions. Especially in times of stress, our character makes itself known. I strongly believe that long-term success in the Adjusting business demands integrity. Who you are determines what you do.
The licensing classes we teach every month require that we include instruction on “ethics”. It’s one of my favorite parts of the class to teach; discussions are always lively. Of course we go over a bunch of stuff that you shouldn’t do; basically stuff that is in violation of the Fair Claims Act. The fun part is when we get to talk about why an Adjuster should be ethical. The first answers all center around the fact that you could get caught. Inevitably, though, someone notes that “getting caught” is not the real reason for doing what’s right, is it? Consistency… what’s your integrity worth?
I am proud to be of service to the Claims industry, and thanks for reading!