“A life lived with integrity – even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come.”  Denis Waitley

I wanted to write about the importance of acting with integrity in business dealings even though it might seem like a very self evident topic. The reason is that in my interactions with numerous people, I have been shocked to see very nice people justifying unethical behaviour, so ethics is actually not all that self evident.

It also seems to me that those people with a deep sense of decency and who operate to high moral standards are the ones who get ahead in life. In Kenya, it always seems to us that those who are rich or successful have gotten that way through corruption so there might be a common assumption that you need to steal, lie and embezzle to get ahead in life. Its not like in the western world where you have numerous roll-models, people who became successful by honest means. In Kenya, its difficult for me to find such roll models as these people are not celebrities and still lead very private lives as opposed to our local celebrities who are those in the political classes whose stories of ill gotten gains are well known.

I also was not taught the  value of work and honesty, I think my parents assumed that I would learn that in church or that it was something we all naturally know. So this is something that I had to learn for myself. So these are the lessons I have learnt:

1. Money and wealth are not finite resources – you do not have to take from others in order to have more. Rather its infinite and can be created. You don’t have to be bothered about how many billions people have because its not depriving you in any way – you don’t have to take theirs, you can work and create your own.

2. Act with financial integrity by ensuring that you live within your means, by all means ask for help from others, borrow if you have to but always make sure you pay back as a priority and with interest if you can. Don’t borrow to live a champagne lifestyle, borrow only when you need. When you lend, only lend what you can afford to lose because you might not get it back. Actually when people are in need, its better to give what you can rather that getting into a financial transaction.

3. When you borrow from a financial institution, whether it be credit cards, business loans etc make sure you pay back no matter how long it takes. If your having difficulties communicate with the bank and be honest and unashamed and they will work with you to find a solution.

4. When and if you decide to go into business do so because whatever that business is – it is your passion. Do not go a particular direction just because you think its the most lucrative. There is no such thing because each industry has its losers and winners and like they say “there is a millionaire in every industry”. You have a far better chance of being successful in something that you have a passion for. Behind your business there must be good intention and love as that is what your customers will appreciate.

5. When dealing with investors in your company, you have to have a deep respect for any investors you might get and not resent them for maybe benefitting more than you in that transaction because where would you be without them?. Don’t blame people for things that you agreed to. I think you will be far more likely to attract investors if your a fair and honest person, also don’t lie to your investors.

In conclusion, be honest and fair even if it costs you money in the short term, because doing right is one of the best investments you can make in your life which even if it does not yield you financially will make you more happy and at peace I guarantee.

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