Honesty and Trust

In my August 19 2011 blog posting I tied passion with the value of integrity.  Part of the entry read to be a person of integrity requires honesty – being honest with yourself and so with others, keeping your word; requires trust – trusting yourself and so trusting others, being trusted and being able to trust others”

I’d like to pick up these comments and so tie passion with integrity and integrity with trust and honesty, and then these back again to passion


Honesty is a characteristic of a moral character.  Wikipedia defines honesty as a characteristic of a moral character “and denotes positive, virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness in telling the truth, being sincere, truthful, honorable, fair, trustworthy, and loyal with integrity” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honesty

Anthony B Robinson (keynote speaker and preacher, consultant and coach, author, columnist and teacher) in his guest article “120 qualities you’ll find in a person of integrity”, states as number 3 “A person with integrity is truthful.  You can trust what they tell you”. http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Articles-Of-Faith-10-qualities-you-ll-find-in-a-1277815.php

It is not easy being truthful.  Too often we consider that the little ‘white lie’ is akin to telling the truth, and that a ‘near truth’ is as good as ‘the’ truth.

In his 1978 hit song “Honesty” (1978 Sony BMG music), Billy Joel takes an honest look at honesty and doesn’t like what he does not find…… “If you look for truthfulness you might just as well be blind and always seems so hard to find….”  His chorus lines paint even a dimmer reality:…”Honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue.  Honesty is hardly ever heard, mostly what I need from you”.  And in his relationship   “All I want is someone to believe…..”.

To ponder over:  As people of integrity and practitioners of passion, do we always give what people need?  Do people hear honesty from us?  Are we people to believe in?  What do we gain from being dishonest (or to put it another way what do we stand to lose if we are caught out being dishonest?)


I believe that trust and trustworthiness are central to successful human interaction – being able to trust others and being able to trust.  But what is ‘trust”?  Trust has different meanings to different people, to different roles and in different contexts/scenarios.  It is very much a subjective judgment. 

It is trust in the context of inter-personal relationships that I would like to dwell on for a moment.    Interpersonal trust involves two parties who interact with each other: on the one hand there I the person who trusts (trustor) and on the other hand there is the person who is trusted (trustee)  “Interpersonal trust is an expectation about a future behavior of another person and an accompanying feeling of calmness, confidence, and security depending on the degree of trust and the extent of the associated risk”  (Walter Bamberger 2010 in “Interpersonal Trust – Attempt of a Definition” http://www.ldv.ei.tum.de/en/research/fidens/interpersonal-trust/

Brian Tracy (Canadian life-coach, motivator and speaker) says trust is the glue that holds all relationships together. “The glue that holds all relationships together — including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”  Note how he links trust with integrity.

To ponder over:  As people of integrity and practitioners of passion, how trustworthy are we?  Do we trust our students?  Are we people to believe in? 


As an educator who in past positions has also had to take the role of the Deputy Principal in charge of student management (secondary) one of the things I commented on often to students is that one of my pet dislikes in people was lying because without honesty I felt that a relationship built on trust could not occur, and that without the allied value of respect, honesty could not be built.  I did not take this view because of some doctoral paper or book that I had read but on the basis of my own personal value base.  I believe that you respect those people you trust and one reason you respect them is because you believe in their integrity, with honesty. 

A very recent blog post “how honest leaders destroy their leadership”, comments that ‘it takes more than honesty to preserve trust, you must show respect”. http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/how-honest-leaders-destroy-their-leadership/

Some people work from the premise that trust must be earned, and some from the premise that trust is assumed but can be lost.  Albeit it with the associated dangers of being let down, I take the view that if a person of passion and hence integrity (say a teacher)  is to establish a true relationship with another (say, a student), then trust should be assumed.

To ponder over:  As people of integrity and practitioners of passion, do we work on the premise that trust must be earned, or from the premise that trust is assumed?  Do we believe that relationships with students should be constructed on both honesty and respect?


Passion and Integrity

I am a passionate educator. I am passionate about my work and, though example, seek to have others share this passion, and in doing inspire in them the joy of learning and living. 

Integrity is a vital element of my persona.  Being a person of integrity, I have an unqualified commitment to moral principles.   The Oxford Companion to Philosophy says “to have integrity is to have unconditional and steady commitment to moral values and obligations”.  Integrity is itself a value but is the value which in a sense binds all other values and helps you to be consistent with them.  It is the building block of character. The word ‘integrity’ emanates from the Latin adjective “integer” which means whole, complete.  Hence integrity is the inner sense of wholeness, an observance of a particular code of behaviour.

 So to be a person of integrity requires honesty – being honest with yourself and so with others, keeping your word; requires trust – trusting yourself and so trusting others, being trusted and being able to trust others;  loyalty – loyal to yourself and so loyal to others and for others, and consistent.  Integrity is something which is developed and established over time.  It can be learned.

 I believe in people and am willing to see good in all, to include all and to be tolerant of personal weaknesses– recognising that talent is a trait to be nurtured, and that behaviour and potential are two different things.  I believe that trust and trustworthiness are central to successful human interaction and that to be whole is to belong. In terms of the wellbeing of staff, leadership, therefore, through integrity, is integral to my approach and interactions. 

 Brian Tracy the Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, who specializes in the training and development of individuals (and organisations) (see http://www.sia-hq.com/articles/Becoming-a-Person-of-Integrity  April 30 2010) maintains that the visible appearance of someone who has high integrity is high quality work.  He maintains that a person of integrity does or strives for excellence in work at all times.  Therefore by practicing integrity in your work (starting a little earlier, working a little larder, staying a little later, concentrating on every little detail) your integrity is apparent to those around you and even rubs off on some of them.

 And while on the topic of work, from time to time in my various roles I have either lead or been a member of interview panels for new employees. One of my favourite questions when interviewing is to ask the candidate to name one person living or dead he/she most admires, and why?  Essentially what I am looking for is what character traits does this person value the most, and hence give me an insight into the values that person holds dearest.

 And so what are the qualities found in a person of integrity?  The following posts, one in 2008 and again in a different blog in 2010, reproduce the substance of an article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer by Anthony B Robinson – the 10 top marks of a person with integrity.

 10 Qualities You’ll Find in a Person of Integrity

(Reprinted with permission—article in Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 28, 2008.)

By Anthony B. Robinson in http://www.wacubo.org/meet/SLC_Presentations/10%20Qualities%20Youll%20Find%20in%20a%20Person%20of%20Integrity%20-%20Champoux%20(2).pdf

and     http://www.imperfectclarity.net/blog/2010/07/30/10-qualities-of-a-person-of-integrity/ (30 Jul 2010)

 What are the marks of a person who possesses integrity? Here’s my Top 10:

1. What you see is what you get. Outer and inner are connected, parts of one whole.

2. A person who has basic integrity honours commitments and keeps promises. If they say they will be there, they are. If they promise to do something, they do it.

3. A person with integrity is truthful. You can trust what they tell you.

4. Consistency. Someone who has integrity isn’t your new best friend one week and then next week doesn’t seem to know you.

5. Integrity doesn’t mean that a person never makes mistakes. But a person with integrity accepts responsibility for his or her own mistakes or failures and does what’s in his or her power to put things right.

6. Related to No. 5, people with integrity are slow to blame others for their problems or frustrations. They aren’t whiners.

7. People of integrity care about the work, the mission, or the product and about a job well done, and not just about what they personally will get out of it in terms of money, recognition or advancement.

8. While receptive to learning and change, people of integrity are sceptical of simple answers to complex problems, and not inclined toward fads or buzzwords.

9. A person of integrity minds his or her own business. I don’t mean isolation, I mean paying attention to your own responsibilities and work rather than freely inserting yourself into the responsibilities of another.

10. People with integrity know that they aren’t perfect and that sometimes in this life it’s not possible to avoid disappointing or hurting others. Because of this they are able to forgive and they can recognize their own need for forgiveness.

Passionate People Produce – introduction

“Take your passion, make it happen You can have it all now, you’re dancing through your life….”     (words from “Flashdance”, written by Keith Forsey & Irene Cara)

I’ve always been a fairly excitable and expressive teacher who loved his work and his subject areas and put all into his teaching and leading, and worked hard to achieve satisfaction in a wide variety of roles in education.

Yet it was a parent in 1997, Charles Kovess (CEO Kovess International) who, in saying that I was ‘passionate’ educator, introduced me to the phrase “Passionate People Produce”. Initially I thought the mantra was just a bit of ‘spin’, especially since the Charles had published a book by the same title (Passionate People Produce, Nacson & Sons 1997), but I have learnt to see the wisdom of his philosophy.

To quote the opening sentence of the introduction to his book “I believe that finding one’s passion, and then pursuing it, is the key to a life of fulfilment, of achievement, of learning”. Kovess then addresses some simplified meanings of passion:

• Soul

• What you ‘love’ to do

• What ‘spontaneously arouses’ you

• What ‘excites’ you

• A guidepost toward our true purpose

Recognising a ‘passionate’’ person Kovess suggests: “such persons exude energy, power, excitement, drive and commitment. Their eyes sparkle, they are fully alive. They impact on us in a special way.”

Finding your passion and pursuing it

Chris Guillebau “The art of non-conformity” in an Elluminate Live Webinar ( www.FutureofEducation.com ) on 20/5/11 recommended the following approach

1. What excites you, gets you out of the bed in the morning? (for example, teaching, a job)

 2. What bothers you? – If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be?

3. What is the connection between 1 & 2: most people don’t know 4. Don’t be afraid to try things – the broader the experiences the better because they help you discover the answer to question 1.

A passionate educator

Does teaching excite you? In your everyday activities ‘at work’ do others see you as exuding energy, drive and commitment? Do you genuinely ‘love’ what you do?

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart,…you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

I believe that I as an educator I have found, and am pursuing my passion. How does this concept resonate with you?