I-N-T-E-G-R-I-T-Y: an acronym for professionals



Commentary by Maj. Ronald Frantz
76th Helicopter Squadron commander


5/24/2007 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Based on the title and before you even start reading this article, I'm sure some of you are saying, "Oh boy, here they go again ... not another commentary from leadership about the Air Force's core values ... please!" O.K., before you quit reading and walk away from your computer, let me promise you the following: I'm giving away a free steak dinner to everyone who reads this article and completes the questionnaire at the end ... just kidding. I do, however, promise to keep it short, keep it educational and only talk about one core value ... deal? Alright, now that I have your attention, let me begin.

Granted, definitions of "integrity" are commonly used in scientific communities to describe the durability of a metal alloy or the weight bearing capacity of a structure. However, I think they nicely apply to our discussion of "integrity" as it relates to moral values too.

Webster's first definition, synonymous with "incorruptibility", is very close to how the Air Force describes "Integrity First." However, I think it's unique that if we exercise the first definition it naturally brings about the second two ... "soundness" and "completeness."  In other words, having a firm adherence to moral values brings about unimpaired soundness and undivided completeness in our lives ... something I think we'd all like to have. Through integrity, we are able to achieve durability of our internal alloy and increase the weight bearing capacity of both our personal and professional lives. 

But integrity isn't just a catch phrase, something to be implemented when it's convenient or when others are watching. No, real integrity involves doing the right thing even when no one else will know.

Now for the "fun" part. I've created an acronym to help us define and remember what real integrity means. Each letter of the word I-N-T-E-G-R-I-T-Y has a special meaning that helps guide me, and I hope it will help you as well. 

"I" stands for initiative. Take the initiative to do the right thing even when no one else will know. 

"N" stands for nurturing. Nurture others through the quality of your actions even when no one else will know. 

"T" stands for teamwork. Teamwork is service before self even when no one else will know. 

"E" stands for excellence. Excellence in all we do even when no one else will know. 

"G" stands for giving. Giving 110 percent even when no one else will know. 

"R" stands for respect. Respect each other even when no one else will know. 

"I" stands for intelligence. Be intelligent by knowing your job better than anyone, even when no one else will know. 

"T" stands for true. Be true to the best that's in you even when no one else will know. 

And "Y" stands for you. You and I can make a difference even when no one else will know.

If we take the initiative, nurture others, be team players, strive for excellence, give 110 percent, respect each other, know our jobs and be true to ourselves and each other, while keeping integrity at the forefront of our actions, we will achieve soundness and completeness in our personal and professional lives. 

Whether you sit in an office and use Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary on a regular basis, support varied range and launch operations or fly helicopters like I do, there are great reasons why the Air Force decided upon "Integrity First" as its lead core value. No matter what your endeavor, keep I-N-T-G-R-I-T-Y in all you do!