Great Ranches of the West by Jim Keen tells the story of Pete Bonds of the Bonds Ranch in Texas. The high-tech ranch, made up of several different ranches stretches across a 200-mile radius from the headquarters. It is big business in every sense of the word. Raising thousands of head of cattle and operating hundreds of gas wells requires many computers, a large number of people and much state-of-the-art communication.
“I like to deal with honest people,” Pete says. He and a man named Preston quibbled for weeks on the price of a prize-winning, 2,800-pound bull Pete had up for sale. Preston was known for driving a hard bargain, and the two were $16,000 apart in their negotiations. As previous deals with Preston had stretched beyond a two-week span, Pete became exasperated over the current back-and-forth conversations. So he proposed, “Look, Preston, we’re not going to haggle over this forever. Let’s flip a coin. Heads, we go with my price. Tails, we go with yours.”
Preston replied, “Only if we can use my quarter.” Pete agreed, and Preston flipped his quarter. “Shoot,” Preston said, “You win, Pete. So, okay, I’ll pay you the extra sixteen thousand.” And so he did. Now here’s the punchline that makes Pete grin. The coin-flipping conversation took place over the phone. Pete was in Texas while Preston and his quarter were in Colorado!
The White House, Capitol Hill, the church, the sports arena have all been hit hard by scandal. The lack of credibility can be traced back to the level of integrity of the individuals within those institutions. John Maxwell says that integrity is not what we do so much as who we are. It seems very obvious that Pete knows who Preston is at his very core.
As I read this story, I challenge myself with these questions: Have you compromised the truth in any way? What have you made excuses about today? Did you exaggerate or stretch the facts this past week? You see everything in me wants to have the integrity of Preston. But I know how easy it is to be someone else when no one is looking. Integrity is the very thing we all want in the person on the other end of the phone or business deal. The best place to start is with ourselves. Integrity is not something you either have or don’t have, it’s a journey of growth that you choose to engage in. A great place to start is by asking yourself: do I want the person on the other side of the table to treat me the way I’ve treated him? If you don’t get a resounding YES, then something needs to change.