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Integrity: A Man’s Word Is His Bond

by Richard Norris on April 19, 2012


Integrity: A Man’s Word Is His Bond


Integrity is often talked about but, from my experience, is not truly understood. Perhaps that is the wrong way to start this. Why? Because, from experience, it seems few leaders today actually show any evidence of this. Promises and commitments seem to go awry sadly because some "leaders", some men, look out for themselves first. In the short-term this may help but in the long-term it costs. It costs relationships at work and at home.

Ever made a promise to your wife or your kids and then broken it? I have, interestingly, only at home. Never at work. However, as I am sure you will know the pain…"Ouch!"..of seeing the pain that you caused in the other person’s eyes – be it your son, daughter, wife, partner, colleague etc (assuming that you noticed).

Perhaps a better way to start this is to say instead:

I believe your word must be your bond.

For me it is not a belief actually. It is now a fact (I was admittedly a slow learner). So much so I would now state it as…

I know my word is my bond.

What about you?

Today, particularly in the work arena, it seems we are consumed by the need to cover our backs and request contracts and consult with lawyers. In many instances the lawyers get rich and you get…well I will leave you to fill in the ___________!

My Dad taught me from a young age about integrity, about my word being my bond. I can still hear him, "Son, a handshake is a handshake. Your handshake is your word. A man’s word is his bond. A Norris’s word is his bond. Remember that. Live by that."

Apart from early days in my marriage, I have ever since. My friends know that. My network knows that. And…my family knows that. Like my Dad, if I say I will do something it gets done. Fast and well and when I say I will do it. When it comes to my family the prevailing thought is that I made a promise and I will live up to it.

When you live this belief your key relationships strengthen. You grow in credibility and reputation. You become more successful. Please remember, because it is important, this applies at home too. Actually, live it out at home and you will live it out at work. The same cannot always be said for the reverse (as I learned).

Has this happened to you? Time and again I put faith in others that their handshake was as good as mine. Time and again I have been disappointed. On a few occasions I have paid a heavy price (mostly in time, expertise and money) having kept up my end of the bargain to no avail.

I have faith. I will keep the standard. Others will come.

I recall going to my Dad’s retirement (he was 76 and still in demand) from the construction industry in New York City. It was the first time I was ever around Dad’s peers from across the industry. These guys and gals were the movers and shakers. All proclaimed their respect and admiration for my Dad and all said he was a man of his word and all dealt with my Dad on a handshake. They said he was a rare breed.

I owe a lot to my Dad and this is one of those gems I am passing down to my children. It has also become a differentiator for me amongst my clients, colleagues, peers, friends and family. Why? Because, this is now a rarity. It makes me stand out. It is essential for leadership and it is a key building block of self-leadership. I get referrals because people know I will deliver fast and effectively with only the need for a handshake. More and more those like me are now becoming part of my circle of influence. This is the way life, leadership and business should be.

I intend to continue to live life and do business this way. To me integrity is crucial to my Journey of Success.

I am doing my part to uphold the legacy of my father and many of his generation to whom a handshake was a handshake.


How about you? Will you join me?

Your Power Play

Look at your commitments this week and the promises that go along with them. Keep them. Keep your word. Show up on time for meetings, appointments, dance recitals and mealtimes etc. Start setting the standard.







tn Play cropped What Do You Believe?

Dr Richard Norris is a self-leadership expert who equips and empowers aspiring men from the boardroom to the locker room to the family room to lead the life they deserve and desire. Clients find Richard’s practical, simple and easy to implement tools, tips and techniques deliver quick results and progress their Journey of Success. Richard’s own self-leadership has developed from a diverse career of experiences as a veterinarian, army office, competitive swimmer, award-winning coach, speaker, author, husband and father.







{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Charlene April 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm

My husband and I both strive to live with integrity and honesty. When we had my son we decided that those two were some of the most important things we wanted to teach our children. One of the commitments that we made was to do our very best to never break a promise to him. We do our best to live by that still today, and I believe it has truly had a positive affect on all of us.


Kelly Menzies April 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Good timing with this post Richard as I have just been discussing this very issue. I believe that “contracts” are great to teach our kids from a young age and help to develop integrity, consistency and responsibility for your actions.


Richard April 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hey Kelly!

Glad serendipity happened. Hope it helps.

Be Awesome!


Emilie April 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm

This is something that young people need to hear. We grew up seeing it in action. They are growing up seeing a whole different world. Thanks for moving it to the front of my mind!


Richard April 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm

So true Emilie.

Sadly, there is too much of an inundation of bad influences in this world and not enough role-models to help steer young people right.

I’ll do my part.

Thank you.


Pauline April 19, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Richard – reading your blog today is like being in the room talking to you. Your written words are exactly how you behave. On the occasions I have worked alongside you I knew I could depend on you to deliver and you always delivered on time and with professionalism.

The only other time I’ve come across this is when I was in the forces and led and worked alongside sericemen and women who I could rely on. However, the difference then is that there were consequences that would happen if they did not delivery. With a friend or business relationship the consequences are different.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and life experiences.


Richard April 19, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Yes, Pauline, as we have both worked alongside each other and have both served in the forces. it is good to know that there are people out there who you can always count on. The more of them we can create and amass the more value we can contribute by the change for good we will bring.

Thank you.


KirkZacharda April 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I live by my word, always have. Not a contract kind of guy. I do very large transactions in my contracting biz on handshakes. Some think I am crazy but that is just who I am. I trust my instincts and deliver on my word. I learned this at a very young age. Great post. There seems to be a non chalantness to telling someone you will do something and then not follow through. Most visible in politics.


Richard April 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Kirk it is good to know someone else who has been raised to honour their word.

As you point out, sadly, there are certain places in this word where talk is cheap, promises broken and relationships exploited.

Let’s be a force for change for the better.

Thank you.


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