Integrity is everything. Agreed. I mean, not only is it at the core of meaningful and effective leadership, but also, a very important personal value for individuals that intend to have any degree of significance. In a society characterized by ‘smartness’ , shunting protocol, jumping queues and expediting processes with bribes, the fellow who insists on doing the right thing immediately becomes the odd person and instantly appears to be the mad one, the question is: How did we get here? I have [intentionally] not defined integrity. We are not discussing integrity today. I am introducing to you a concept I call Retrospective Integrityand how even the macroscopically worst of us would jump at every opportunity to appear ‘holier than the pope’.
There comes a point in a man’s life when he decides that he’s had enough of cutting corners and now wants to live right for the rest of his life. There comes a point in a woman’s life when she’s fed up of her progress up the corporate ladder by frivolous and unspeakable means and she decides that henceforth, I must earn my promotions and accolades, I indeed have the soundness of mind and the right network of people to get to whatever height I desire in life. There comes a point in our lives, sooner or later, when we decide to be people of integrity. Interestingly for many, this event coincides with some spiritual event, some sudden realization and awareness of self worth and for others, an extremely shameful public display of dirty linens and that infamous cupboard housing skeletons. Whatever and whichever is the case, some of us get to that point. Some, sadly, never.
Very recently, I was at a gathering of young people, in their very early twenties and our deliberations centered around how much of our past escapades we should ‘make right’ at this point when we decide to henceforth live true and sincere lives of integrity. Case 1 was of a Young lady, Final Year Economics student of the University of Lagos, on a very good two-one. She has one of these events earlier listed and it suddenly dawns on her that her WAEC result was forged and indeed not her result, but today she’s brilliant enough to be on a two-one. What is expected of our Lady ? Drop out of University? Retake WAEC? Retake JAMB and then get properly admitted? Do a formal letter to the University Admissions office? A letter of what if I may ask? Letter of apology? or complaint? Or Letter of Awakening?
Case 2: President Obi Ayodole Hassan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, had led impressive reforms across board. Twenty-four hour power supply, better roads, better security. He also has this ‘turning-point’ event and later realizes that the elections that got him into power were heavily rigged. He has now become the people’s choice, but fact remains that he got into office wrongly. Should he resign? Call for a re-election? Issue a public apology to his opponent? Step down from office?
Case 3: You know case 3. Truth is I can go on and on. As much as you’ll argue that these scenarios are unique and would require unique ways out, and careful considerations of implications, I must point out that they are very similar. Extremely similar. Retrospective Integrity. An attempt to go into our past to fix certain events. An attempt to days-of-our-futures-past our lives and influence reality. Realities that have become extremely more complicated than every factor that caused them years before. It’s a concept called restitution in some circles.
My intention is to generate a discussion. If indeed we are ‘turning a new leaf’ Do we really have to go back to rewrite or edit previous pages? Must we hunt down and edit the past to guarantee a sane future? Or should we convince ourselves we have genuinely changed and keep our dirty little secrets to ourselves? Move on with life and let bygones be bygones? Do we indeed become holier and less likely to return to old ways if our restitution is public and attendant shame great? “Go and sin no more” Could that imply “quickly go back to edit the past then fast-forward and sin no more? Would such thinking justify misbehaviour and gross misconduct if all you need to do is just wake up one morning and turn a new leaf?
Ladies and gentlemen, The floor is open.
Dayo is a medical doctor by training, a piano player when not working, a writer when off the piano, a photographer when not writing, an avid reader at leisure time and a seasoned speaker anytime.
He loves to challenge convention, encourage people to be more and do more, and to change his world one person at a time. He tweets from @thisdayo
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I am a Medical Doctor, Brand Strategist and the Author of Musings of an Analytical Mind. I love to challenge conventional thinking and am a firm believer in the coexistence of aesthetics and quality. Follow me @ifeodedere on Twitter.