Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Integrity.  What does integrity mean to you?  Do you have integrity? 

Integrity is the adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.  Based on this definition alone having integrity is an extremely difficult character trait.  Integrity is not a trait that is easily expressed or maintained by most people.  It takes a great deal of courage, confidence, and strength to have integrity.  It is adhering to your morals or a community's moral code in the face of a challenge.  A lot of people talk about integrity or claim to have integrity but has it ever been tested.

The first time I remember having my integrity tested as an adult was when I was at Officer Candidate School for the United States Marine Corps.  I was running through 4 feet of water on route to a simulated small arms fire fight on an enemy bunker.  I heard a voice in the distance yell "Rifle up Candidate Curtis".  I responded "huh..oh yeah".  The voice immediately got closer and become 100 times more harsh and angry.  I had disrespected by Platoon Commander in front of our entire training company.  Let's just say I made a massive mistake.  As I finished plowing through the water and was on dry land I was given a 1000 word essay to be completed on my free time about situational awareness where only words of 4 letters or more counted.  This was going to be difficult because our free time was between 2200hrs(10pm) and 0500hrs(5am) and we were to be sleeping during this time.  Lights were out what was I going to do?

After this training exercise we returned to our squad bay to clean our rifles first and then to clean up ourselves.  Rifles were always taken care of first because they will keep a Marine alive in battle and they needed to function perfectly every time the trigger is pulled.  My Platoon Commander told me that he would approach me once we returned to the squad bay to give me more specific instructions about my punishment. 

Well this had not happened.  Hours had passed and he was not clarifying his instructions.  I looked deep within myself and asked the question "what should I do?"  I was raised to be honest and accepting of the consequences for my actions.  I decided to go to my Platoon Commander's office.  There was very specific protocol for entering the Drill Instructor's and Platoon Commanders office/sleeping quarters.  A candidate had to stand by the door, bang three times on the wall, then state Good Evening Platoon Commander Captain America Candidate Curtis requests permission to enter.  You needed to wait for a reply and then if entrance was granted you would smack the wall once more and state Candidate on deck.  I stood at attention, very nervous and scared, and asked my Platoon Commander what the guidelines were for my punishment.  He had forgotten all about it.  I was floored, he was a human, he had forgotten.  He stated to me "Candidate Curtis you just showed me great integrity and caused yourself more work than you already have".  The guidelines were the same nothing changed, but my character was no longer in question in the mind of my Platoon Commander.  That night before and after my fire watch duty I completed my assignment.  I was proud that I had done the work, I kept my integrity.  My moral code was not broken and stood strong against a large test.

Where is this going?  Crossfit requires an amazing amount of integrity.  We are given strength programming and WOD's everyday and are expected by trusting coaches and friends to keep a proper count, do all the required rounds, and  not cheat in any fashion.  Without integrity people could make up all kinds of things, inflate their scores, skip rounds, and not complete the exercises properly.  As we progress through the games season Crossfitters around the world have the integrity of their training challenged.  The integrity for effective training and completing WOD's and skills properly will have massive impacts on their performance. 

Next time you enter your box think to yourself...Do I have integrity?  Am I giving my best effort?  When you are squatting are you going all the way down, when you are doing pull ups is your chin clearing the bar every time?  If it is not get it there, train harder, do not sacrifice the integrity of the skill or WOD.  Do what is expected of you.  Make the hard decision to do the hard work. 

"One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”
-Chinua Achebe

"Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”
- W. Clement Stone

My brother Quinlon and me at my USMC Graduation. 

1 comment:

  1. Embarrassingly, I must admit that the ‘massive mistake’ in the story eludes me (blame it on my civilian status). However, it IS a great story with an even better tie-in to the importance of maintaining integrity in Crossfit WODs. Just one more thing to love about Crossfit, I guess; it challenges you physically, mentally, technically, morally, ethically…