“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”

— Samuel Johnson


While each of the principles our mentors instill in students is valuable for becoming a leader, integrity is the foundation.  There are times when we are all tempted to do the wrong thing or take shortcuts to success. But teenagers are especially vulnerable. They’re more susceptible to the pressure placed on them by their peers. They don’t have hindsight from past experiences to help show them the right decision in the present.

Taking the time to figure out why integrity is important and how they can develop it within their own lives is one of the most important skills our students can develop.


What does it mean to live a life of integrity?

Integrity can be hard to define… especially for teenagers. However, we believe it’s important for students to take the time to identify what the word means to them.

Here’s just one example of how a student might define integrity after going through the T1L1 program:

Teach One to Lead One on Vimeo.

How can we help students create their own definition of integrity?

Our team has identified four steps that can help students when making a decision that forces them to protect their integrity:

  1. Decide it.

    In every decision, students have to decide what choice they‘re going to make. They may have to brainstorm several ideas before they make that decision, but deciding what they‘re going to do is always the first step.

  2. Do it.

    Just because a student knows or has decided on the right thing to do, doesn‘t mean it‘s done. They have to follow through with action.

  3. Defend it.

    It’s important for students to remind themselves why they made the right decision. This is where commitment comes in. Students can quickly become their own worst enemy and can try to talk themselves out of doing the right thing.

  4. Deliver it.

    To become a leader, students must be able to explain their thought process and decisions to others. In other words, they have to “deliver it” by teaching it to others.


This is a process we teach each mentor to walk through with our students. The more they practice the habit of deciding, doing, defending, and delivering the stronger they get at living a life of integrity.

Mentors: What are some ways you help your students create their own personal definition of integrity?

Teachers & Administrators: How have you seen these 4 steps make a difference when it comes to the decisions your students make?


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