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Integrity – The Foundational Trait

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

The On The Ball Theory establishes Four Quadrants within its framework. In the process of moving from quadrant to quadrant, the set of Eight Traits are leveraged to position us to get to and stay On The Ball as Achievers. However, when looking at the Eight Traits and how they are connected to each other, without Integrity as a foundation to support the other traits, the success of the framework begins to suffer.

The Integrity Trait Defined

Let’s start by establishing that for the purpose of this discussion, Integrity includes a broad range of sub-traits:

· Establishing trust with others

· Holding yourself accountable for your actions, to yourself and others

· Being a reliable resource to those around you

· Acting in an ethical manner

· Accepting responsibility

Perhaps this is taking a bit of literary license in creating a broad definition of Integrity, but ultimately, it is meant to foster respect and credibility in your relationships. It is the compass by which we guide and maintain strong principles and values, even when faced with difficult or challenging situations. An individual with Integrity is someone who is truthful and transparent in their actions and interactions with others.

Here are two quotes to consider:

Author Harvey Mackay is credited with the saying:

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don't have integrity, nothing else matters.”

Architect and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller is credited with saying:

“Integrity is the essence of everything successful. “

I’m not quite sure I buy into all of Harvey Mackay’s quote. Comparatively, I do think if you have Integrity, it serves as a catalyst to enhance and enable other traits, and truly make them more effective. However, I believe it is a true statement that if you don’t have Integrity, nothing else matters. As a result, the following hybrid of Mackay’s and Fuller’s quotes is probably more appropriate:

“Integrity is the foundation of everything successful. But if you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

Integrity and the Other Seven Traits

Sometimes we take it for granted, but let’s explore how the other traits reply upon Integrity within the On The Ball Theory framework:


When we have Integrity, we hold ourselves accountable for our actions, and even their consequences when the outcome is not as expected. Ideally, we look to embrace feedback and constructive criticism, as it can help us identify areas of improvement.

With a strong Curiosity trait, we are regularly looking to learn and grow throughout our lives. We strive to grow and evolve as a person, learning from our experiences. Since “The Ball” is elastic, and changes throughout our lives, our ability to adapt and successful growth is driven by honest evaluation of how and where we need to develop.

Problem Solving

Whether you are trying to recognize the root cause of a problem or challenge, or ready to solve the problem itself, Integrity is woven throughout for it to be successful. All too often, we don’t address the correct problem because we are not willing to address the true root cause of the issue at hand. As the saying goes, how often do we avoid the “elephant in the room” because a subject is too controversial, too personal, or too challenging to address with someone or a group. Not dealing with the actual issue simply delays solving the problem, or potentially makes it even worse. We always have to be willing to be honest and transparent with ourselves and others as to what needs to be remedied.

Or, in fairness, despite best efforts, the root cause of a problem may not be readily apparent. Persistence to explore the true underlying cause of an issue, and not just symptoms of a problem, may take time, effort, and possibly teamwork. Being clear with others, and accountable in your approach to identifying the core issue, will go a long way to truly recognizing the challenge.

Once identified, and a path set forward to solve the problem, one must act responsibly, and remain accountable, to ensure resolution is achieved, or the challenge completed. Sometimes that can be just as hard, and perhaps harder, than identifying the problem itself, based on the journey required.


Effective communications cannot take place, at all, without Integrity and trust, with those whom you are exchanging the information. In kind, keeping those around us well informed is critical to maintain their trust.

The converse of that – misunderstandings, miscommunication, or lack of transparency – can breed doubt and suspicion, weakening trust. When people fail to effectively convey their intentions, thoughts, or feelings, it can strain relationships and erode trust over time. It is challenging to stay On The Ball in that kind of environment.

You can have great communication skills, but without Integrity as a foundational trait, you cannot be a great communicator.


Similar to communications, when we work together with others, and collaborate on a problem to solve, or a task at hand, it is most effective when we do so with mutual trust. When you can rely upon those around you, whether colleagues, friends, or family members, and they can rely upon you, a great many things can be accomplished.

When we hold ourselves accountable for our actions with teammates, can be a reliable person that others can count on, and accept responsibility, our ability to collaborate with others is incredibly strong. However, when those Integrity traits fail, and teammates cannot rely upon each other, or attempt to pass the responsibility buck, then collaboration suffers.

You can have great people skills, and act like a great teammate, but without Integrity as a foundational trait, you cannot be a great collaborator.


Ambition is the “trigger trait” that helps propel Believers to become Achievers. It is the essential aspect of human nature that drives an individual to achieve their goals. Having Ambition in life is important because it provides a sense of direction, purpose, and motivation. It helps individuals to focus their energies and resources towards a specific objective, which, in turn, increases their chances of accomplishing their goals.

Bundled within our definition of Ambition is Perseverance. Perseverance is the ability to persist through challenges, setbacks, and failures without losing sight of one's goals.

Now, some will argue that there are plenty of ambitious people in the world who lack Integrity. But can they truly be considered On The Ball if their ambition is without ethics or a moral compass? Perhaps there are those who manage to accomplish some “quick wins” in life, but lasting achievement can be embraced through responsibility, accountability, trust, and perseverance in all tasks we encounter in life.

Planning & Preparation

When you are planning to accomplish something large, and collaborating with others to do so, managing expectations is very important. The integrity of your plan, being honest with what it is you need to do, who is responsible for various tasks, and when they can realistically be completed, is critical to success. Nobody gains from presenting a plan that someone wants to hear just because it meets a deadline if you know it will be impossible to meet. Nor does anyone win if the execution of the plan fall short of the expectations of those involved.

Planning is critical to success, and integrity is critical to a good plan. Trust and transparency, balanced with responsibility and accountability for respective tasks, paves the road to achievement.


Finally, the importance of trust and Integrity in our leaders cannot be overstated. More than ever, our leaders must act in an ethical manner, be accountable, and expect accountability from those around them. By leading by example, On The Ball Achievers help provide guidance and direction for others to emulate, especially in leveraging all of the Eight Traits, in their pursuit of being On The Ball as well.

By comparison, can you consider someone a true leader who is found to be dishonest or lacking a moral compass? Let’s not confuse a position of authority with leadership – they are not one and the same, but can overlap. When they combine in a positive way, amazing things can be accomplished. But beware the person who attempts to leverage their authority in unethical ways.

The Hardest and Most Fragile

Now that we’ve demonstrated how foundational Integrity is to the On The Ball Theory framework, here’s the next lesson: It is the hardest trait to maintain, and the easiest to break.

Integrity never takes a day off. Compared to Collaboration, where you might take the weekend off from colleagues at work, or Communications, where emails get set aside for a day, building and maintaining Integrity and trust is something that must be worked at every, single day. Just as the foundation of a building takes time and effort to build properly in order to support everything it needs to, Integrity takes time and effort as well.

However, it could also be considered the most fragile of the Traits. Trust is delicate, easily broken, and can be very difficult to reestablish. If you think it is hard to maintain, it will likely be ten times harder to repair, if it can be repaired at all.

An Architect’s Advice

Any good architect will tell you that their building and supporting framework will only be as sound and secure as the foundation that provides its support. The same is true for the On The Ball Theory – Integrity, as the Foundational Trait, is so fundamental in the overall framework. As you follow your Blueprint to Achiever, the path is far more stable and reassured with Integrity as your foundational building block.

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