Blog,  Business

Living in Integrity …The 4-Way Test in Rotary

By Kathy Denise Hicks

When you think of being “of or in integrity”, what comes to mind?

First, let’s define what this word means, and the concepts that are embraced…
Integrity can be defined as aligning your conduct with what you know to be excellent. A person of integrity displays a principled dedication to values and beliefs. They always seek to reflect ethical standards and do the right thing regardless of the circumstances. I have always had a desire to do the right thing when no one was looking but “Living in Integrity” has not always been on my radar nor in my vocabulary.

This last year at the urging of my mentor, I joined Rotary in Sebastopol California. She thought it would be great for not only me personally, but great for my business. Being a very social person, who loves to serve others, it seemed like a great fit. At the first introductory meeting, I resonated with the basis of the foundation of the service club and quickly knew I had chosen wisely and knew that this new association would help define integrity in my business and personal life.

Attributes of Integrity

The convictions of a person of integrity determine what they will say and do at any given time. They intentionally direct their conduct according to their understanding of what is right and wrong. Authenticity marks the heart of integrity. Their internal character remains consistent regardless of external conditions. Integrity includes the quality of being honest, but honesty does not always demonstrate integrity. The difference is the inner commitment to being trustworthy and communicating the truth without deception.

An integrated person lives without duplicity and hypocrisy. A person of integrity does not claim to be perfect. Instead, they are quick to acknowledge their own mistakes and faults. Their sincerity comes from a pure motivation to do what is right even when it might be inconvenient. Times of crisis particularly test a person’s integrity. What would it take for you to compromise your resolve to do what you believe is right?

The 4-Way Test in Rotary

The international service organization Rotary, with more than 35,000 Clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas, exemplifies what it means to have integrity adopted as a part of its Mission Statement. Rotary Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds.

Rotary teaches the “4-Way Test” that goes like this:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build good will and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Sometimes an activity or idea meets two or three of the questions, but it must meet all four to pass muster. I love how the four rules have no bounds to religion, race, culture, business and personal. You can ask these four questions when making a simple decision or a decision that could be your next business adventure.

Building an online business for two years since April 2020 has forced me to incorporate these questions into my thought process. Before making a decision regarding a client with an issue, I go through the 4-Way Test to help me have integrity in everything I do. I am sure I do make mistakes but always try to be mindful.

The History of the 4-Way Test

This is the story of the “4-Way Test” from Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor:

“Back in 1932, the Creditors of the Club Aluminum Company assigned me the task of saving the company from being closed out as a bankrupt organization. The company was a distributor of cookware and other
household items. We found that the company owed its creditors over $400,000 more than its total assets. It was bankrupt but still alive. At that time, we borrowed $6,100 from a Chicago bank to give us a little cash on which to operate. While we had a good product our competitors also had fine cookware with well-advertised brand names. Our company also had some fine people working for it, but our competitors also had the same. Our competitors were naturally in much stronger financial condition than we were.” With tremendous obstacles and handicaps facing us we felt that we must develop in our organization something which our competitors would not have in equal amount. We decided that it should be the character, dependability and service mindedness of our personnel.

We determined, first, to be very careful in the selection of our personnel and, second, to help them become better men and women as they progressed with our company. We believed that “In right there is might” and we determined to do our best to always be right. Our industry, as was true of scores of other industries, had a code of ethics but the code was long, almost impossible to memorize and therefore impractical. We felt that we needed a simple measuring stick of ethics which everyone in the company could quickly memorize. We also believed that the proposed test should not tell our people what they must do, but ask them questions which would make it possible for them to find out whether their proposed plans, policies, statements or actions were right or wrong. Considerable time was spent in developing the four short questions which now make up the Four-Way Test.”

The Four-Way Test, created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor (served as RI president, 1954-1955)

How I Used the 4-Way Test

Growing pains in my business and propelled me to build a team that would help me achieve my goals. Before hiring individuals to work with and for me, I knew I needed to decide what my core values would be . Honest and caring team members  that could share their gifts, were characteristics I began looking for. Developing my own personal core values, helped me define how I wanted my team to operate by demonstrating integrity in their lives. One of my main goals was building an entrepreneurial company culture to allow people to shine and rise to their potential. I believe the 4 questions in the 4-Way Test, leads to living in integrity and I use these questions in my everyday business dealings and as I am building my business and team.

Working with clients and assistants and peers, I am constantly asking “Is it the truth?” That is does it ring truth in my spirit and is it something I can get behind? If I can get behind an idea or ideal, I can promote it to my clients and friends. Typically, I experience what I read or test a book or product before recommending it. If it passes the first question, I go on to the second question.

“Is it fair to all concerned?” Expanding a business or adding in new ideas is how a leader grows on a personal basis. I take the ideas from others or myself and make sure they are fair to all concerned. In other words, that the product or service is equitable for each consumer. Another way of saying it in my terms, are my customers enjoying and appreciating my product and service. By this response, I believe the customer feels like he or she has obtained a fair deal and received value.

“Will it build good will and better friendships?” This question is one that I ponder with every decision I make. I attempt to be aware of how the decision will impact those around me. A main objective I have is to keep the relationship, no matter what the decision. As I approach the pros and cons, I ask the question, how can I strengthen my ties to others and connect those around me.

The last question is a great one to ask in dealings with most issues, “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” While I can’t make everyone happy or satisfied all the time, I can recognize that and recommend an action that benefits the client most.  Helping others receive benefit is very important in my life and business.

While the 4-Way Test is relatively new to me, I challenge myself to embrace and utilize the principles behind them. Creating goals and a team has become a bit easier as I have guidelines to stay in my lane and strive to live in integrity.  Attempting to always think through these 4 principles and give myself the test, helps me attain integrity.


Action Steps:

Are you familiar with Rotary International, and the 4-Way Test? Think about the people and activities you are involved in, both personally and in your business. What’s an example of something that would meet this test of integrity? Think of a time when someone you were dealing with wanted you to get involved in something that did not meet this test. How did you react and respond?

About the Author

I am Kathy Denise Hicks, Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist and author and I would love to connect with you to help you achieve your fitness and health goals. Correcting muscular imbalances can really help you function better. If you are looking to get moving, feel more energy, get out of pain, and lose a few pounds, I have a program that can help. My 14 Day Workout Trial, will give you an idea of the classes I offer.

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