Violate this, and it’s all over!

You don’t need to be a perfectionist to succeed.

In fact, in a lot of situations, you may need to do badly before you can do better… And you’ve got to do better before you can be great!

But there’s one thing that you CAN’T drop the ball with, or you’re done. Burn this JEM into your brain with everything you do – business and personal – and you really can’t fail, no matter what you do.

Integrity VS Expediency

By Jim Edwards
I had a very interesting experience this past week that I wanted to share, the lesson I learned and was reminded of from it.

I’ve done business with a certain professional for about 6 years now. We’ve done several deals and I believe she is a good person. However, I don’t believe we will ever do business again.

handshake_illustration_400_clr_15979This person was hired to sell something for me. What it is doesn’t really matter. How she was doing at the sale doesn’t matter either.

What matters is that in a moment of trying to save a few minutes of time she violated my trust by (1) changing a contract I had already signed and then (2) acting on those changes without my knowledge.

In a moment of expediency she sacrificed her integrity… and our relationship was forever (or at least for a long time) ended. I can never trust her again. I don’t think she acted out of malice, but the effect was the same.

When we sat down to talk about it, she had all sorts of excuses and side issues that she threw up to explain the situation… excuse it… justify it – as much to herself as to me. But in the end it came down to one thing, she changed a contract without my knowledge.

That’s a violation of trust – of integrity.

In the end, the culprit was lack of communication. She thought one thing, I thought another and the communication wasn’t there. In this situation, with her as the service provider, it was incumbent upon her to communicate with me – to initiate it. I am the customer, she is the service provider.

Should I have contacted her? Probably. But it wasn’t my job in this situation.

What’s the point of telling you this sordid little tale and reminding myself of the lesson at the same time?


Integrity can be lost in an instant, especially when you’re not paying attention.

Once you’ve lost your integrity, there goes your credibility right alongside it. The two go hand in hand. One little slip. Just one little slip in the name of “taking the easy route” or “it doesn’t matter” or “nobody will care or notice” and it’s all over.

Be careful. The most important thing you have in your life is your name, your word, and your integrity. All of us (myself included) can’t let our guard down for an instant… all it takes is one slip.

By the way, the root cause of this problem was a decision made in the heat of the moment without thinking.

decisionsI’ve got an entire book on “How To Make a Decision” that would have made a real difference in this situation. You can check it out here if you want to learn how to make good decisions that enrich your life quickly –


  • Dolly Garlo

    Reply Reply March 14, 2015


    Love this article. Sorry you had that experience, but to me what you describe is the essence of what differentiates a true professional, particularly a “fiduciary” from people in business.

    I love business, and I love being a professional, but my professional training taught me (and required me by oath and license) to be a fiduciary – to put the client’s needs before my own.

    How to translate that, install that, into the business mindset?! It is particularly sad to me to watch actual fiduciary-level professionals leave that sense of integrity behind when they go into business for themselves. Partly to blame, in my view, is the ‘business training’ they get that encourages high profits before the service that earns them.

    There’s too much of that out there and, unfortunately, it causes the choices and actions that a simple phone call could solve, to discuss whatever the “reasons” for something are, before you choose to take a unilateral action when already in relationship with someone – as in the case you describe.

    Contracts are about relationships. Business with or without written contracts (generally do include implied contracts … another story) are about relationships – forming them, preserving them, changing them agreeably when need be. Working through things in a win-win fashion requires the involvement of both parties committed to both their own AND THE OTHER’S best interests. And when that can’t happen, the professional still puts the other’s interests first.

    Because that usually will result in both parties winning in the long run.

    Thank you for this article.
    Cheers, Dolly

  • Dave

    Reply Reply March 14, 2015

    Trust often requires a leap of faith, and when there’s noone there to catch you, it can be heartbreaking. I recently lost faith in a marketer who has been around for years and touts himself as a straight shooter. Somehow he ended up promoting some insanely bad people who swindled a lot of people, including myself, thus losing the trust of many.
    Lessons such as this are invaluable, however, and the same mistake will not be made again. For this I give thanks.

  • David Foley

    Reply Reply March 14, 2015


    Your message is sooooo true.

    Especially on the Internet where scammers are legion, one needs to be very careful.

    I follow 3 people (you included) and pretty much ignore everyone else..


  • Miriam Goldstein

    Reply Reply March 14, 2015

    Hi Jim,
    I loved this article! I so agree with you. Integrity in working with someone is everything! If a building loses integrity, it is condemned and all tenants/ owners must vacate the premises.
    This says it all.
    I find it mind blowing how many people don’t take care to understand this key concept when entering into agreements even in our personal life. Over and over again I have observed friends and colleagues lose relationships , personal and business due to unclear communication and assumptions as you eloquently describe.And yes I too have made mistakes and paid for them.
    Thank you for this VIP! reminder.
    Miriam Goldstein

  • Ake Hedman

    Reply Reply March 14, 2015


    Thank you for the reminder.
    However, you are too kind!

    Ake Hedman

  • BigJim

    Reply Reply March 14, 2015

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the feedback… this certainly was not to get on a high horse… I’ve learned this lesson from both sides in my life. The best we can do is be vigilant and do our utmost to keep people’s trust. With that said, we’re human and if we mess up, we get back up, learn from it and keep going.


  • Virginia

    Reply Reply March 14, 2015

    As Jim states, integrity and credibility are intertwined. You don’t adhere to one and the other goes away as well. Deliberate acts, like changing the terms of a contract, are done with a misplaced sense of power to ‘do what I want’. Wrong. Thanks for the reminder lesson.

  • Earl

    Reply Reply March 14, 2015

    Your message(sermon) lol, was refreshing! The days of our life. Thanks, Jim!

  • BigJim

    Reply Reply March 16, 2015

    Thank you all for your thoughts! 🙂


  • Gerard

    Reply Reply August 5, 2015

    Hello Jim Great article and so very true in business and Personal life. I have built my business on the basis of integrity and my customers have place orders just on that on principal even though I wasn’t the cheapest.

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