I was once asked during an interview "what's more important, honesty or integrity, and why?" Wow, sounds like a total 'trap' question. Is there a right answer? Is there a wrong answer? I hate these type of questions. Interviewers love messing with us don't they? On the surface it's very difficult to answer as we all value both of these traits. During the interview I panicked and choked out some cliche, ambiguous answer about how they are both equally important. But I couldn't get the question out of my head.
After doing some thinking on it, I believe I've answered it for myself at least. For me, honesty comes down to how we react to people, situations, and circumstances. If we're asked a question, or presented with a discussion, we can choose to answer honestly or not. Honesty is shown by how we communicate, how we respond, how we behave when the spotlight is on.
Integrity is.... different. It must be spontaneous and organic, it comes from within. It's how we relate to the world when no one is watching, when no one is asking, when no one is checking. Integrity is a higher, more sophisticated form of honesty in my opinion. It's quite easy most of the time to respond honestly when confronted with a given situation. It takes much more discipline and willpower to act with TRUE integrity when it's just you and the universe. How many of us would act the EXACT same way if we knew no one was watching? Or do the same quality job at work if we had no boss, no supervision, no accountability?
Personally, I find honesty comes without much effort. But having true integrity is somewhat like a "mastery" of honesty. It's an ongoing, ever evolving quest, just like mastery in Kung Fu, or mastery of anything.
Make integrity an active thought while you go about your day. Not just to strive for it, but to give yourself the recognition you deserve when you act with true integrity.
"One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised" Chinua Achebe