As an entrepreneur, I’ve never had just “one” business. Instead, I’ve always owned several businesses either on my own or with partners.
It’s fun to own multiple businesses because I could have money coming from different places, not be bored just doing one thing, exercise my creative juices in different areas, and whenever possible feed leads or opportunities from one complementing business to another.
But there’s also a darker side to owning multiple businesses that I’ve avoided talking about for many years, but it’s finally time I confess – a lot of times I feel out-of-alignment, pulled in different directions, and divided in my decision-making. As a result, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve caused damage to my reputation in business because of the domino effect that happened both professionally and personally when I didn’t pay attention to what this division in my life was doing to me.
It’s not that owning multiple businesses is wrong. Many people are successfully managing 2 or more businesses.
What I discovered was wrong with me didn’t really have anything at all to do with the business itself, but with a much deeper root in my own personal life – my integrity.
We Christian entrepreneurs know that integrity is important. We’ve heard about it, and we may have an idea of what it is, but integrity has so many levels in all seasons of our life that it essentially becomes a life-long muscle that has to be strengthened and exercised.
The Definition of Integrity
One definition that the dictionary gives for integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” As Christian entrepreneurs, I think we would all say that we pass this test or that we’re working on this in our lives and we feel justified by this definition.
But there’s a second definition of integrity – “the state of being whole and undivided.” The difference is that this definition is not about honesty or character or goodness. Instead, this version describes integrity as wholeness or oneness.
In other words, an entrepreneur with integrity has perfect alignment between their words, actions, beliefs, and I would argue, even their businesses. A business owner of integrity is not divided, we don’t say one thing and do another, and we are consistent with our core.
It’s the second definition that left me thinking that a have a lot of room to grow in this area of integrity. I’ve met and done business with people of high integrity and its always a breath of fresh air because they are always on time, they are focused, and they do what they say they’re going to do.
A Warning about Integrity
We would all agree that integrity is both a rare and extremely important quality in entrepreneurship, especially for us Godpreneurs. It is a virtue that God would want us to improve and intentionally cultivate.
In fact, integrity is so important to God that its mentioned 6 times in the book of Proverbs alone, 16 times in the rest of the bible, and referenced in over 80 other bible verses!
The one we see most often in Proverbs is something like this:
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.
In each of the proverbs that mention integrity, God contrasts good integrity with the consequences of not having integrity. Why? Not to scare us, but for us to see that there’s a domino effect that can happen when a business life is out of alignment.
When integrity in business is lacking, it sets off a chain reaction that if not fixed, can lead to so many problems. When one thing falls it knocks down another, which knocks down another, and soon enough, things have gotten out of control.
Here are some problems you may also be experiencing in your business life that point to your need to also work on your Integrity.
6 Signs that Point to a Problem With Your Integrity
- You’re Losing Your Attention to Detail – When your actions and words are out of sync it causes you to make mistakes in internal projects, production, or the services you’re providing. Because you said one thing but did another thing, your brain can’t process things perfectly because God didn’t design your brain to do two opposing things at the same time.
- Your Self Discipline Takes a Nosedive – Entrepreneurship requires 100% excellence in self-discipline because you’re the boss, so you are the only one holding yourself accountable to your goals. Self-discipline even as a non-business owner is not easy, and it is next to impossible for entrepreneurs when your personal integrity is out of whack. When you see yourself marking every task or project launch as “urgent”, then you’re blinded to the truly important tasks God needs you to focus on, therefore what God wants you to accomplish that day slips through the cracks.
- Your Reputation Begins to Suffer – Proverbs 22:1 says “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” You think you’re in business to make money, but God placed reputation ABOVE money because poor integrity will be a bad witness to the world and good people (people of high integrity) will not want to work with you. Instead, you’ll attract other people of bad integrity. You can fool some clients or employees when they first meet you, but sooner or later your being out of alignment will make your reputation suffer.
- You Experience Problems at Home – I don’t know about you, but when there’s an issue with a client’s account and have to get home late because I’m fixing the problem so I don’t damage my reputation, my wife isn’t happy. She understands to a certain extent, but it’s not ideal. The stresses of not being in integrity will bleed into your personal life. Your spouse and kids won’t get the 100% you.
- You Can’t Sleeping Well Because Your Mind Won’t Stop – When I’m stressed, I lay up at night staring at the ceiling thinking about work. Forget about a sleep pattern, I get thrown off and wake up tired. Getting home late will make you sleep late, then you’ll want to get up early to keep fixing things and you get little sleep. The bible says “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)
- Now Your Health is at Risk – When you’re stressed, don’t sleep well, and have problems with your spouse and kids, it’s a recipe for health problems. God didn’t design our bodies to go through this kind of turmoil. Your body is an outward expression of what’s going on inside. Gaining weight? Back hurt? Eyes twitching? This is your body outwardly showing the integrity issues.
The chain reaction above is a small illustration of the problems when our integrity is compromised.
To drive the point home, if a bridge has a huge crack, we probably wouldn’t cross it. It’s obvious that the structural integrity of the bridge means it needs fixing. But what if the bridge had a bunch of small cracks? We’d probably still cross it. But if they don’t fix the small cracks, they will become bigger.
In the same way, our personal integrity can develop small cracks over time that turn into big cracks. And sometimes people can’t see the small cracks, but eventually, the cracks will become public and our business and personal lives come crumbling down.
We Godpreneurs need to make sure we’re always working at keeping our integrity. But how?
In the next few posts, we’ll explore integrity and reveal God’s plan for keeping our hearts pure.