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Acting With Integrity

This post is something which I've often thought about but have just been putting off writing about - I just didn't/can't trust myself to do it in a way which wasn't completely cringe-worthy!


I think we're all used to working for companies who post their value statements on the walls or their websites. I used to think that was just some lip-serviced marketing garbage - and often times it was. It's therefore that much worse if somebody tries that kind of thing with their own personal site - yuck!


What changed is that I've come to view it as an almost kind of insurance (for lack of a better metaphor). The purpose of this post isn't to go around publicising it, or as some kind of self-serving "look at me, aren't I just soooo great!?" way. The real purpose is far more selfish - and simple.


Having a publicly visible statement on integrity just helps me act consistently, which too has the added benefit of getting me out of otherwise sticky situations.


In the same way it's easier to never eat dessert rather than hardly ever eat dessert, I can point to a very public blog post on a site called "aaronpritzlaff.com" and tell people I act with integrity. By always doing something, there is no mental calculation involved ("what should I do in this situation?"). Equally, if I ever should act in a way which could be perceived as dishonest, it makes it easier for others to call me out on it. They can point to this post and say ... "erm, ahem.... what about that?!?".


This works in the same way as codes-of-conduct are common in open-source software (such as the Scala Code of Conduct). I'm publicly saying that a core value of mine is to always act with integrity:

  • To never betray trust - honour commitments to those who speak to me in confidence

  • To take a duty of care with friends and those I work with in considering my impacts on them

  • To give transparent, honest feedback

  • To not be deceitful by omission (while being considerate of feelings; not over-sharing)

These may (and hopefully are) very obvious things, and in a perfect world should set a low bar.


When one of my daughters tell me something in confidence, I ask their permission to share that information with their mother (my wife). It may be "obvious" that my wife a


nd I both have our daughters' wellbeing at heart, and will of course talk about them. But the implication of me sharing one of my daughters secrets without getting their permission would damage our relationship, only resulting in them not trusting me the next time. I therefor have to get my daughter's permission to share their secret, or explain to them how I can't, and therefore how and when I'll share that information for their benefit.


Anyway, I just felt it important to make those sentiments public, particularly as areas where I


serve in a leadership position are not unlike the situation with my children. It's important that everyone who works with me feels they should be able to confide in me, even (and perhaps especially) knowing that I will likely be interacting with their colleagues or management.




Lastly, a lot of the thinking behind this post comes from Sam Harris's book "Lying", where Sam makes an excellent case for how and why it's possible (and important) to take a position on never lying.


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