Authenticity takes integrity

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, May 9, 2019

MORAL INTEGRITY… means looking inward and being honest with ourselves and others. —David Irvine, The Other Everest

Photography by Warren Harbeck

“We need leaders who are authentic — people whose inner compass guides their daily actions and inspire trust by being honest and real.” So writes David Irvine, of Cochrane, in his most recent book, The Other Everest: Navigating the Pathway to Authentic Leadership. At the heart of that inner compass is one virtue in particular on which all others depend: moral integrity.

“After more than thirty years of experience and research in the leadership development field, I have come to the conclusion that the world is in need of leaders who are committed to substance over superficial, character over charisma, and service over self-interest,” he says.

But what the internationally acclaimed speaker, writer and consultant says about moral integrity applies not only to those who aspire to become authentic leaders in business, politics and community. It’s my strong conviction that David’s wisdom applies to all of us who aspire to become truly authentic human beings, and not counterfeits.

“Moral integrity … means looking inward and being honest with ourselves and others,” he says. It’s about being accountable to the “still small voice” of our conscience.

David recommends three steps to moral integrity for our consideration:

  1. Discern right from wrong, based on a strong conscience.

This step brings to mind Rotary’s Four Way Test. (See my column for April 11.) “Does the intent behind your decision lead to the betterment of all constituents?” David asks. “Is it the right thing to do? Moral integrity is about intent, about an honest effort to do what is right instead of what is easy, comfortable, or you stand on principles that serve the greater whole.”

  1. Act on your decision.

This is about retaining one’s self-respect, even when it displeases others, David says. “While the foundation of moral integrity is intention, action is what makes it real. You must be willing to do what is right, even at the risk of discomfort, rejection, or financial or personal loss. If it is morally right, it will lead to a better life, even if you don’t get immediate returns.”

  1. Make your decisions and actions public to all stakeholders affected by your decisions.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” David notes. “If there is any doubt that an action is ethical, bring it out in the open with those who will be affected by the action. Criminal, unethical behavior does not happen in the open. It’s hidden in the dark.”

I have long held David up as a mentor of integrity for me. If even in some small way I can be a mirror of his example, I believe I will travel further along in my personal journey toward being an authentic human being.

Here’s David’s own testimony to the importance of moral integrity:

“Moral integrity means knowing we have a line that we will not cross under any circumstances. If you compromise your integrity, before you know it, you will learn to accept not having integrity. One of the most important accomplishments of my career is being known as somebody who is not only reliable but also honest and forthright in all my dealings. There is a difference between people who feel that the end justifies the means and the people who believe that the means are just as important as the end. I aspire to be one of the latter.”

This fall (Nov. 5–8) David will be leading a retreat on The Other Everest: Navigating the Pathway to Authentic Leadership at The Banff Centre. Visit David’s website for registration details,

Copies of The Other Everest are available locally at ProActive Health, Bay 24, 312 5th Ave. West, Cochrane, or online from


© 2019 Warren Harbeck

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