Career Success, Personal Branding and Integrity

Tiger Woods almost won a golf tournament a little over a week ago.  It would have been his first win in over a year – and his first win since his infidelities became public.  I was a huge Tiger fan, and I still like him as a golfer.  So I was actually hoping he would win.  He lost.

The Monday following that tournament, I spoke with several people I know who follow golf. Their reactions were interesting…

“I don’t really care how Tiger plays anymore.”

“I hope he never wins another tournament.”

“I’m sick of hearing about him.  I wish he would just go away.”

I bring this up not to bash Tiger, or to sit in moral judgment of him.  I bring it up because there is an important piece of career advice here.  It has to do with personal branding and integrity. 

About a year ago, Tiger Woods was the most recognizable and successful brand in the world.  He made over $100 million from endorsements in 2009.  Then it was all gone – well not all of it, but a good chunk of the money and most of the goodwill.  See the quotes above to see what I mean.

Tweet 62 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Your personal brand should be unique to you, but built on integrity.  Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”

According to Wikipedia, “Integrity is consistency of actions, values, methods, measures and principles.”  Integrity and consistency are intertwined.  People who are consistent in their actions are seen as people with a high degree of integrity.

Oprah says, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”  This is true.  If you practice situational ethics – doing the right thing only when you’re in the public eye — you aren’t really a person of high integrity, you’re just pretending to be one.

Besides, it’s hard to act one way in public, and another in private.  So to be safe, take Oprah’s career advice.  Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do – not because you’ll get credit, or avoid getting into trouble.

John Maxwell is a well known business author.  One of his books sends the same message.  It’s called There is No Such Thing As Business Ethics: There’s Only One Rule for Making Decisions.  According to John, that rule is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  In other words, do the right thing — simple, straightforward career advice.

There’s a practical side to this too.  Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”  In other words, if you’re always a person of high integrity, it’s easy to be a person of high integrity; there are no complicating factors – like remembering what you did or said in a given situation.

Polonius gave similar advice to Hamlet.  “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the day the night, thou canst be false to no man.”  Roy Blackman, my father in law passed away a few years ago.  This quote was his epitaph.  It was on the program handed out at his funeral.  Roy embodied it in how he lived his life.  It was the only piece of advice he gave his grandson, Matt, as he went off to college.

Oprah, John Maxwell, Mark Twain and Shakespeare are all in agreement on one common sense piece of career advice.  If you want to become known as a person of high integrity – and I believe integrity is the cornerstone of any personal brand – act as a person of high integrity all the time – not just when it suits you, or when someone might notice.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  If you want to become a life and career success, you have to create positive personal impact.  One way you create positive personal impact is by developing and nurturing your unique personal brand.  Your personal brand should be uniquely you, but it should be built on integrity.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 62 in Success Tweets.  “Your personal brand should be uniquely you, but built on integrity.  Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.”  As Tiger Woods’ case demonstrates, a lack of integrity can lead to serious consequences for a carefully crafted brand.  Tiger was respected figure.  Now, many of his fans have deserted him – his golf game is suffering too.  So take a lesson from Tiger – one he’s learned the hard way — build your personal brand on integrity.

That’s my take on the career advice embodied in building your personal brand on integrity – and the sad story of Tiger Woods.  What’s yours?  Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. Well said. There is always the temptation to fool ourselves into thinking that we can live two different lives. However we must remind ourselves that the truth will come out eventually. Experience teaches wisdom. So let us be wise in our dealings with others.

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