In the operating room of a large metropolitan hospital, a young nurse was completing her first day on the job. “You’ve only removed eleven sponges, Doctor,” she said to the surgeon closing an incision after surgery. “We used twelve.”
“I removed them all,” the doctor declared. “We’ll close the incision now.”
“No,” the nurse objected. “We used twelve sponges.”
“I’ll take the responsibility,” the doctor said grimly. “Now suture!”
“You can’t do that!” the nurse blurted out. “Think of the patient.”
Just then the doctor smiled, lifted his foot, and showed the nurse the twelfth sponge. “You’ll do,” he said. He had been testing her integrity—and she had it. This story illustrates a key component of integrity: having the courage of your convictions—sticking to your guns, doing what you believe is right, and not fearing to speak out. Such actions are sorely needed. We need to witness a reemergence of integrity as one of the predominant values in the collective human character.
Those who do have integrity and consistently try to exercise it have discovered something the rest of the world ought to know: Integrity makes life easier, as well as more joyful and powerful.
I realize that integrity is a virtue, not a gift.