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Professional Integrity: Do You Have It?

by Celine on January 15th, 2008

I’ve just finished reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. While I may not agree with all of the ideas put forth in the book, among the things that resonated in me was the sense of professional integrity. Here’s a quote from the protagonist, Howard Roark:

“But you see, I have, let’s say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards-and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.”

Overall, the book made me ask myself if I feel any joy or respect for what I do. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a clear vision of what they want, but often finds himself/herself in the company of naysayers. Here are some aspects of the professional life that the book touches on:

Norms and traditions. Just because everyone is doing something in the same way, it doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to do it. It doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to do it, either. If you have your own way of doing or seeing things, and you truly believe in your vision, you should pursue it. Wondering what others will think or say about you is a waste of time. After all, most of us have this irrational need to please those we do not even like, those who don’t even know us or what we have to offer.

Wealth and status. These two things are something that should not be a primary concern, if you really want to push forward with the work that you believe in. Sometimes, your most ingenious, creative ideas aren’t necessarily the most financially viable or the most practical. But does this make them any less important? Of course not.

Self-respect. Most people turn to others for recognition of their good work. While it does feel good to be rewarded, don’t let that be the only way you take pride in what you do. If you truly respect yourself and your work, no one can take that away from you. In fact, how can you expect others to respect your work if you don’t respect it yourself?

Joy in the act of working. Do you look forward to your workday, knowing that you will do something that brings you such great joy? While not everyone is lucky to have that, at the very least we should avoid work that makes us feel angry or hopeless. Or we should make attempts to discover what kind of work does make us happy. This way, our work will be part of living, rather than just survival.

How do you feel about your work? Do you feel a sense of joy when your day begins and a sense of accomplishment when it ends?

POSTED IN: Books, Workplace Wellness, Survival Skills

2 opinions for Professional Integrity: Do You Have It?

  • Anne Wayman
    Jan 15, 2020 at 7:57 am

    Sigh… yes, Rand’s book does tout all these, and yes, I’m totally in favor of personal and professional integrity… but Ayn Rand should be taken to task about the way her heroes always raped or almost raped the heroine and the heroine enjoyed it… plus, as founder of what’s become the Libertarian Party, which, among other things, wants almost no government at all, totally failing to recognize the “free” market can’t exist without government, well… sigh, sorry…

  • Celine
    Jan 15, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    Don’t apologize, Anne - I completely agree with you. Which is why my entry started with “While I may not agree with all of the ideas put forth in the book…” The novel itself and Rand’s ideas are so vast and complex (as are my reactions to it) for one to discuss in a blog entry, and I was even angry that the main character raped the only female lead in the book. I found it offensive that Rand, as a woman, could think of portraying her protagonist this way. (Not to mention that her use of language, in The Fountainhead and her other works, tends to be male-centered.)

    However, I thought the idea of professional integrity, one of the ideas put forth in the book, was one I could discuss here at Pimp Your Work. Professional integrity is something I feel strongly about, especially lately when I’ve been noticing that the people I work with tend to “sell their soul” for the slightest approval of an egocentric boss.

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