The Millionaire Next Door

Integrity, Integrity, Integrity

Just prior to completing The Millionaire Mind, I received a letter that was ideally suited for inclusion in the chapter about success factors. 

I have read your most recent works.  I have an extremely high mathematical aptitude.  I hold advanced degrees in advanced math. . . . I’m currently in transition.  Eventually I want to pursue a different career path. . . . I’m intensely interested in becoming a math tutor for the children of the wealthy.  Can you supply me with the names and mailing addresses in the following areas: ______?

I’ve have often said that I am not in the mailing list business.  But even if I was I would not want to supply this character with such a list.  Why not?  The letter goes on:

I’m currently in prison. . . .  I’m scheduled for release next September.

The message here is simple.  There are people like this convict who are intellectually gifted, but who don’t necessarily have high integrity.  The halo that surrounds smart people often blinds us.  Too often we automatically think they are better in all of life’s key dimensions.  

It is unfortunate that some people with high analytic intellect use this gift for less than honorable purposes.  It was reported in The New York Times that a 19 year old college sophomore alledgedly “took the [SAT] test for five [high school students] . . . .  They paid him a fee of up to $2,500.   [The] students had B to B- grades and SAT scores in the 97th percentile raising suspicion.  A handwriting analysis by E.T.S. determined that one student had taken [all the] tests.” 

My surveys of highly successful people reveal that integrity is paramount in becoming successful.  Also, high analytic intellect is not a required ingredient in the success formula.  It is likely that the people who are involved in this scandal will find out the hard way that integrity is much more important than having high analytic intellect.

4 thoughts on “Integrity, Integrity, Integrity”

  1. Thank you so much for writing this article. I truly believe in this principle and while none of us are perfect…without integrity our credibility is toast. It does not matter what your title/occupation/career/fame/business/net worth etc are because without integrity…your overall worth will evaporate. Immediate gratification will impact your finances, your family(possibly three generations on down) and your health.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story. Just last night I met a guy that is an excellent orator. He even broke out into a foreign language to communicate with someone else and then came back to our conversation in English. It was quite obvious that this guy is insanely intelligent. BUT, he’s also a drug addict and has some other problems I won’t go into. So yes, I have experienced first-hand that book smarts doesn’t equal success in all areas of one’s life.

  3. Integrity is a characteristic that you either have, or you don’t (either a 100 or a 0)
    The guy with an intelligence of 75, and an integrity of 100 will get a total score of 7,500.
    The guy with an intelligence of only 10, but still an integrity of 100 will still get a 1,000.
    But a guy with an intelligence of 100, but an integrity of 0 will remain at a 0. No matter how much he complains about how he is more intelligent and more qualified than the guy with only an 85 intelligence, the guy with more integrity is always going to prevail.

    An intelligent man in a high position with low integrity is much, much more dangerous to society than a poor man with low integrity. The high position man can do much more damage, whether it be the collapse of a huge company due to a lie, or an intellectual property theft etc etc.

  4. Dr. Stanley, For a person to be Successful you must have the three characteristics…integrity, be technically competent and add value. Everything else is icing on the cake.

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