Integrity can’t be taken, but it can be given away.
That was one of the messages retired Army Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens delivered to nearly 150 Troy University graduates Sunday during fall commencement exercises at the Dothan Civic Center.
Edens, who served as the Commanding General and Director of Army Safety at the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, said graduates must not only rely on their knowledge, but their character to succeed.
“All successful leaders have one common trait: they earned and maintained our trust,” Edens said. “They have the courage to admit when they’re wrong. They have the fortitude to make the hard decisions. They are honest with themselves and others. They demonstrate loyalty to their boss, their peers and their subordinates.”
He cautioned the graduates that there will be stumbles along the way, but the key is how they respond to those struggles.
“We are all human, and we will make mistakes, but I think a person with character will work to buff out those blemishes and not allow them to build into a pattern of deceit and letting things slide,” he said. “Trust matters. Integrity matters. And character still matters. Don’t fall into the trap of justifying your failures.”
When facing the world, Edens said, it’s integrity that will earn respect.
“Being a person of character is not easy or something that is self-sustaining,” Edens said. “You must zealously guard it, actively and resolutely work to keep it above repute. It requires maintenance and continuous correction.”
A total of 147 TROY students received degrees Sunday.