Integrity requires that we ask ourselves, ‘What kind of person do I want to see when I look in the mirror?’

A professional golfer once penalized herself two strokes when she found she had accidentally played the wrong ball in a major tournament. The penalty cost her first place. Later a friend asked her why she had done it. ‘No one saw you’, she said, ‘No one would have known the difference.’ ‘I would have known’, she replied.

A high official in the German embassy in London in 1906, who could have gone on to become Chancellor of Germany, was asked to be the chairman of a dinner for the King of England who was known to be an immoral character. Knowing that that the entertainment was going to include something extremely unsuitable, he abruptly resigned rather than preside over the dinner, therefore ending his political career. ‘I couldn’t have looked at myself in the mirror in the morning if I had,’ he said.

Whatever the personal cost to myself, that’s not the point; I can’t drop below the level of true integrity.

Integrity defines us by aligning who we are with how we behave. It is what others see in us as a reflection of what we see in ourselves.

That’s the mirror test.


Source: Drucker on Leadership, William A. Cohen