Make Integrity A Mainstay

Then one day, while reading the biography of Sidney Poitier, the famous actor from Blackboard Jungle, To Sir with Love, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, I suddenly found what I was looking for. Poitier spoke of a significant moment in his life when working with another famous actor, John Cassavetes. One of the other actors in a scene they were sharing asked Poitier if he minded changing the scene to favor a speech the other actor was to give.

In short, he asked Poitier to stand in a different place, face a different way, and deliver the set-up line differently. Being always anxious to please, he said he would oblige—no problem.

After the scene was shot, Cassavetes took Poitier aside and told him never to do that again.

I found so much insight in Cassavetes’ reasoning. He reminded Poitier that he was the primary actor in the movie and that the elements should reflect what he was trying to portray as the character he was playing. While Poitier could be nice and accommodating in all other aspects of his life, Cassavetes encouraged him that when it came to his profession, his craft, he should be uncompromising in every way.

Methodical Brilliance

This is not an example of Cassavetes pushing Poitier to be selfish, but it is the mark of a true professional. Holding to one’s principles in any work situation is important.

If one is a well-respected tool-and-die maker and an apprentice suggests skipping a step or two in rendering a machined part, the former should not compromise his reputation.

If a realtor initially doesn’t tally the correct numbers for a house he or she has just sold, the numbers must be added until they are correct. There may be a temptation to hide the numbers in a mountain of paperwork, but the true professional will not compromise on principle.

A politician of integrity can be applauded for fighting for a bill that he or she knows will not get much support even from one’s own party.

“Uncompromising” may be seen by some as a term with a negative connotation, but it is an absolute asset to a man or woman of high reputation and standards. Integrity should be the mainstay of anyone’s life.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at

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