My Integrity Inspiration Award for March 18, 2008 goes to Barack Obama for his speech about the "race" issue.

I was moved that Obama had the courage to tell it like it is in a balanced and complete way. He refused to sell short himself, his family, his communities, or the American people. In doing this he made it clear that neither issues nor people can or should be simplified into the trite sound bites most media, pundits and politicians have become used to dishing out to the public.

In fact, Obama’s speech treated Americans as though they are smart enough to handle a deeper message than the shallow drivel we usually hear day in and day out. I believe he is right that the public is smart enough to digest deep and balanced messages and that the media is way off base in depriving the public of this kind of depth in its reporting and analyses.

For instance:

  • In condemning his former pastor’s remarks while honoring the ways in which he is grateful to his pastor, Obama modeled self-integrity.
  • Through demonstrating understanding and empathy for the roots of black anger and white resentment, he modeled relationship integrity.
  • By framing his remarks in ways that transcend political orientation and move us toward reconciliation rather than reinforcing polarization, Obama modeled societal integrity.

Politician integrity requires living at the intersection of self-integrity, relationship integrity and societal integrity. This is the "3D Integrity" that I show people how to develop in themselves in my book, The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World and its companion, The New IQ Integrity Makeover Workbook.

Former NY governor Eliot Spitzer is but a recent example of how political integrity is damaged when a leader who champions societal integrity turns out to be severely lacking in relationship integrity.

Our current recession (and the entire Bear Stearns mess) is but a recent example of how government, business and citizen integrity are damaged greed being confused with fulfillment of the American Dream.

It is time for all of us to place a priority on electing politicians who exemplify all three core aspects of integrity: self-integrity, relationship integrity and societal integrity. Likewise, it is time for all of us to place a priority on selecting business and community leaders who exemplify 3D Integrity as well.

I deeply hope I will have the opportunity to give one of my Integrity Inspiration Awards to both John McCain and Hillary Clinton too, especially since both are viewed by their supporters as being candidates of integrity. Will they have enough integrity to more explicitly model self-integrity, relationship integrity and societal integrity in their public remarks? Will Obama continue to demonstrate the kind of integrity he demonstrated in this speech?

Time will tell. There is lots of time between now and the presidential conventions, let alone the presidential elections.