Unlike other Navy vessels, which only need to worry about water penetrating the hull (bottom of the ship), our entire submarine was submerged and exposed to water pressure so we had to be on constant alert all around us.
I learned this the first time I went out to sea and was told that we were taking the sub down to test depth. Each submarine has limitations on how deep it can go based on various factors, one being age. Before we began each patrol we’d have to take the submarine down as far as we could go to see when the submarine would begin experiencing leaks. We did this so we’d know our range of operation before we set out on our missions.
Crew members would wear headphones throughout the sub while we took it down to test depth so they could immediately report when our watertight integrity was compromised (leaks), then we’d immediately take the submarine back up with the knowledge of how deep we could go before we ran into trouble. We played cat and mouse many times with Russian submarines so this knowledge was critical. The bottom line is that the greater our watertight integrity the more effective we were on our missions and of course we were much safer.
The topic of watertight integrity has applications in our lives as well. I feel like personal integrity in our country has taken a huge hit over the last several decades. I know not everyone is this way but I’m finding it more and more difficult to find people who will do what they say they’re going to do. I was taught that my word was my bond and following through with this is part of my parent’s legacy that I want to honor. I don’t think anyone would doubt that a defining characteristic of “The Greatest Generation” was their strong personal integrity.
Just as our submarine’s hull experienced incredible water pressure, people often experience incredible societal pressures that can damage their integrity. The problem with watertight integrity is that you either have it or you don’t. Even a small hole in our sub could have taken us to the bottom of the ocean. Our integrity isn’t watertight if we compromise our value system, even if it’s just a little bit here and there we can still sink.
I like to use the following litmus test to gauge my actions: If all the things that I say and do outside of my home were printed in the newspaper, would I be okay with it? And when my family read the paper would they be proud of me or ashamed? This test sums it up pretty well.
People don’t typically rupture a major leak in their personal integrity instead over time they tend to pop minor ones here and there. Sometimes we’re able to get away with little transgressions but it often ends up setting us up for a big fall. If you think about it, there are many people in prison who might not be there if their petty crimes were caught early. Like many criminals, when they get away with breaking the law they’ll generally escalate until they’re caught, it’s just the nature of the system.
Although not discussed a lot when it comes to being successful both personally and professionally, but trust is a major factor. Thousands of people get fired every year not because they can’t do their jobs but for some reason their employer lost trust in them usually from breaking company policies. I promise you that one of the greatest chances you have for keeping a job is to demonstrate your integrity and build trust with your employer.
When we compromise our personal or professional integrity, it rarely turns out well. The Bible says it best: “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 12:22).
Four of my friends and I decided to form our own sales and marketing company called SellEthics Marketing Group, Inc. The word “Ethics” is in our name not just to tell the world how we do business, but to remind ourselves each day that we must live up to our name. Believe me, there have been times that we’ve been tempted to bend the truth to get ahead or to get out of a tight spot but in the end, we always remembered our commitment to ethics and to doing the right thing no matter what the consequences. Over the years, we have never regretted telling the truth.
Even if we never get caught in a lie, there’s a major problem because whenever we compromise our integrity, a piece of us is lost. The resulting guilt even if it is in our subconscious, reduces our joy. This is a fact. It’s also difficult to have effective relationships when we don’t feel good about ourselves.
Having integrity is critical to experiencing a life of happiness and success. Just like on a submarine, there will always be pressures that put our water tightness to the test but there’s no room for compromise when it comes to our value systems. The key is to maintain our integrity which will keep our lives afloat.