Happy New Year 2018!

I truly hope 2018 is the best year of your life both personally and professionally. As a baseball scout or coach I’m sure you realize that you have influence. You have the unique ability to impact others around you. However one of the most important characteristics that you must display for maximum influence in 2018 is Integrity.

Integrity is essential for a leader, because people will not willingly follow someone they cannot trust. And trust is built when you consistently act according to your beliefs. When you have integrity, you have what Peter Drucker called “the final requirement of effective leadership.”

Recently I heard a coach say, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Quite honestly, that is one of my least favorite sayings. It’s a catchy, but destructive thought that does more harm than good, and here’s why: You can’t truly “make it” if you don’t have integrity. And integrity is the opposite of fake. It literally means being whole and undivided – being the same on the inside as you are on the outside. If “fake it ‘til you make it” is a philosophy that you live by, then you’re setting yourself up for failure in the long run.

However I understand why people have embraced this thought. We live in a culture that rewards image – often over integrity. We promote people who appear to have their act together, and encourage others to do the same. Never mind any warning signs about their character. As long as they look good while they produce, our culture is satisfied. Why is that? Why do we reward image over integrity? The answer is simple: Image is easy. Integrity is hard.

So in 2018, how can you make sure you are building your integrity in a culture of image? Here are three questions you should ask yourself in order to maintain your integrity:

AM I BEING TRUE TO MYSELF?  Living with integrity begins within. The only person in the world you can’t hide from! To be a genuine person, you have to be able to live with yourself and the decisions you make. If your actions would cause you shame or embarrassment if they were ever found out, then you’re not being true to yourself and your values. If you feel the need to hide your actions from others, the first person you’re deceiving is yourself.

AM I BEING TRUE TO MY MENTOR?  Mentors are the people who have chosen to invest in you. They believe in you and your potential, and have shared their time and wisdom to help you maximize it. If your actions would disappoint them, then you’re not putting enough value on your mentor’s investment. You’re shortchanging the process, and hurting both yourself and your mentor.

AM I BEING TRUE TO THE PEOPLE I AM INFLUENCING?  You are surrounded by people who are affected by your actions. Be they family, friends, athletes, coaches or colleagues, your choices and decisions impact them on a daily basis. If you are not living a genuine life with them, it will ultimately damage the relationships that you need to thrive.

It’s easy to believe that integrity doesn’t really pay off. In fact, that seems to be the message our culture champions! Why do things the hard way when you can just “fake it ‘til you make it” – especially when so many people seem to succeed overnight through shortcuts and shams? It’s tempting to believe that you can or should do the same. After all, everyone wants to get to the top, so why not take the fastest route?

Here is the reality: the fastest way to the top will not keep you there. People who shortchange their internal character inevitably fall. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And when they do, it’s always a long drop back to the bottom – and a much steeper climb the second time around. If you want to get to the top and stay there, the key is integrity. Sure, it takes time, and it often feels like an unnoticed effort, but be patient. Integrity will pay off in the end.

Your integrity is the foundation for lasting achievement. If you build it, success and significance will come. And you’ll be able enjoy them for a long time.

Happy New Year 2018!