My wife babysits my three-year old grandson a few days each week. He still takes a nap most days (a life-long habit we should all consider, by the way) and wants Grandma to lay with him until he goes to sleep. The other day he told her, “If you not here when I wake up, I won’t be able to trust you anymore.” So, he already has trust issues.
I think we all know the importance of trust. It is critical for success at home, at work, and everywhere else we function. It is that essential element for good teamwork. And, it can make the difference between a fulfilling career and one that is drudgery. Trust is so very important, yet it is hard to define and harder yet to refine and enhance.
Stephen Covey says of trust:
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey –
So, today, let’s take a look at six key truths about trust. How can these truths help us to either trust others more or, better yet, elicit greater trust of ourselves by others:
- Trust those that are truthful, even in small matters – “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” – Albert Einstein. An individual that cherishes truth is one whom you can likely trust. This individual honors truth and is likely to elevate truth above many other character attributes. When you find an individual that you know will not bend the truth, will convey it consistently, and be truthful to you, even when it hurts, is one that you can place significant trust. Are you this kind of person?
- Trust is earned through actions, not words – “Put more trust in nobility of character than in an oath.” – Solon. Talk is cheap. It is easy for most individuals to convincingly elicit trust through their words, promises, and commitments. However, we have probably all been burned by the words of individuals that later proved to be untrustworthy. Learn to observe trust through actions. Does an individual do what they say they will do or routinely offer excuses? We probably all know someone that prompts this thought, “Yeah, I hear what you are saying, but I’ll believe it when I see it.” If an individual’s actions frequently do not back up their promises or words, You know that this is an individual that can’t be trusted with anything significant. Do your own actions back up your words?
- Trust is one of the greatest human attributes you can possibly earn – “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” -George MacDonald. Trust does not come at “first sight.” It must be earned over time, day-by-day. When you find an individual you can trust, you have found a great gift. Does anyone in your life count consider you that great gift of trust?
- Trust is hard to find, but easy to lose –“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” –Friedrich Nietzsche. I think we all agree that once trust has been broken, it is difficult, if even possible, to rebuilt or restore it. To do so takes time, energy, and effort. Even then, there will always be that nagging feeling about whether trust is warranted. It is worth whatever it takes to ensure that trust is never broken in the first place. Have you ever given anyone a reason to not trust you? If so, have you confessed and committed to the long, tedious process of regaining that trust?
- When you give trust to another, you tend to get more in return – “The chief lesson I have learned in a long life is that the only way you can make a man trustworthy is to trust him; and the surest way to make him untrustworthy is to distrust him.” – Henry L. Stimson. When you demonstrate to another that they have earned your trust, that trust tends to be rewarded. An individual, knowing how fragile trust can be, will work hard to maintain the trust that you have given. And, likewise, the one you trust is likely to trust you with the measure you trust them. When you share trust, you are making a commitment to that person that may be stronger than any other commitment you can make. Are you free about giving trust? Is it possible that others do not trust you because you have not trusted them?
- To truly trust others, you must have a level of trust in yourself – “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.” – Golda Meir. A person that does not trust himself/herself is easy to spot. You can see it in their demeanor, approach to life, and actions. Why would anyone place their trust in someone that clearly does not have that same level of personal trust? Find your direction and go forward! Don’t second guess what choices you make once you have diligently sought the best direction. Life does not have a rear-view mirror. Are you one that has difficulties trusting yourself? Can you find a way to be more confident in your actions?
As a business leader, your ability to trust your team may very well define your own success. As a family member, or spouse, or friend, are you one that can be trusted in every situation, even the little ones? What are you doing today to become even more trustworthy?
One action that you can take today in your own “trust journey” is to find someone that you can trust. Have a frank conversation with that individual. Ask if you are trustworthy? Ask why or why not? Talk about what might make you more trustworthy. But, before you do this, be prepared for the answers you get. Be open and be honest with yourself. And, do not take it out on the individual you ask to be open and honest with you. What you learn might make a significant difference in the rest of your life.
The question for today is, “Can you be trusted?” Have you earned trust? And, perhaps more importantly, what will you do differently after you get the answer.
Have a terrific day! I hope this is your best day yet! There is still that chance, you know.