Monday, November 3, 2008


By: Joseph Norman

Recently, I’ve been reading Dr. Henry Cloud’s book Integrity. It’s a topic of particular interest to me because I believe it is the quintessential element of an individual’s success. Today, I would like to share a few points from the text which I find particularly valuable.

First, let’s take a look at the three key things which attribute to a person’s success:

Mastery of a skill or set of competencies. Often people that achieve success are experts in their particular field. They have dedicated time, effort, and passion to developing this skill set and it is now reaping them great rewards.

Have a unique ability for building strategic alliances. This can be misconceived as “networking,” but in reality it is much deeper than that. Strategic alliances are characterized by a mutual relationship based on creating leverage to take what each party does to another level. In other words, one plus one equals three.

And the final and most crucial factor:

Have the character to not screw it up. People often think of character as a safe guard against bad things happening, when in fact it is actually the ultimate determining factor for the opportunity to achieve something. Who a person is will determine if their brains, talents, competencies, energy, effort, deal-making abilities, and opportunities will succeed.

So, how does one measure a person’s integrity? Dr. Cloud has an approach he calls the “wake test.” This is founded on the idea that in everybody’s “wake,” they leave a trail of data which determines their success or failure. A wake doesn’t lie and it doesn’t care about excuses.

One’s wake consists of two categories, tasks and relationships;

Tasks. These are the performance objectives. Is it a wake of goals being reached? Profits being made? Growth of the business or the deal that person was working on? The mission being accomplished? Things getting completed? New ways of doing things being introduced and perfected? A stronger brand? A stronger reputation for the work and company? Or, were the results negative? Misfires? Unreached goals? Disorganization and chaos? Resources or money lost?

Relationships. Would a person say that their lives are better off after their experience with you, or worse off? Did they consider it a blessing that they were associated with you, or a curse? Have people grown as a result of being associated with you? Did your relationship cause them to produce more? Or, have you left people wounded? Less trusting? Feeling put down, cheated, or manipulated? Disappointed, let down, or lied to? And the most important question: “Would they want to do it again?”

My challenge to you this week is to think about the wake you are making in your life. Ask yourself these questions and take a keen eye to the integrity you are bringing to your everyday life. The results may be frightening, but they will be a true testament to what you are really bringing to the table. You must appreciate where you are, in order to understand what you’re doing!

Again, the majority of this information is from the book Integrity by Henry Cloud. For more on the topic, check out the book!