Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #15
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, Winds of changing weather
The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.
– Albert Einstein
Trust is not only earned; it must be given.
– Robert C. Solomon and Fernando Flores
Trust is often an unspoken assumption in our daily lives, as it silently serves as the foundation upon which we build relationships, communities, and global societies. While we often expect trust to be earned, it is the gift of trust that transforms individuals, relationships, teams and organizations.
Some of my fondest memories are of summers working for my grandparents on their avocado and lemon ranch. When I was ten, I started helping my grandfather move the sprinklers in the orchard each morning to the next block of trees. I began by following along, learning to set, clean and clear the sprinklers so they’d work properly. I graduated to alternating, so that I’d move every other hose line in partnership with him. From there we shifted to going down parallel pipelines, each of us moving our respective sprinkler hoses. And finally came the day when he was out of town and I was managing it on my own.
As I reflect on my experience, I realize he was giving trust to me, confident that I could learn and grow into new responsibilities. I in turn was developing my self-trust, self-confidence, and earning progressively more trust as I mastered an increasing scope of responsibilities. The whole process was transformational for me, much like the caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
Our challenge today is to build trust amidst ever increasing complexity, volatility, uncertainty and ambiguity. As we strive to create a better future in our own lives, with our families, friends, organizations and communities, and across divides between differing societies, allowing trust to remain as an unspoken assumption in the background opens the door for a rapid rise in distrust.
Neuroscience research by Angelika Dimoka, published in MIS Quarterly Vol. 34 No. 2/June 2010, describes trust and distrust as distinct albeit related constructs in our brain’s neural networks. Distrust arises from strong emotional content associated with 1) feelings of worry due to fear of loss, and 2) intense negative emotions of wariness, caution, defensiveness, vigilance, anger, hate and betrayal. Trust on the other hand is more cognitive in its nature arising from 1) confident expectations in anticipation of positive rewards, 2) predicting how the person we trust will act in the future, and 3) a willingness to be vulnerable in the face of uncertainty. In functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) studies of buyer decision-making, trust and distrust activated different parts of the brain.
Since distrust is activated so automatically and often unconsciously by fear of loss and perceived threats to our identity, belonging and safety, we must be more consciously focused to calm our triggered nervous systems, and develop and give trust. In Building Trust: In Business, Politics, Relationships, and Life, Robert C. Solomon and Fernando Flores write,
"The old paradigm of trust is simple trust, that perfectly ordinary trust that quietly slips into the background of comfort and familiarity. The new paradigm of trust is authentic trust, in which the question of trust is front and center, in which commitment and not comfort is the critical concern, in which the promise is not mere security but innovation and adventure."
"Trusting is something that we individually do; it is something we make, we create, we build, we maintain, we sustain with our promises, our commitments, our emotions, and our sense of our own integrity."
I believe now is a critical time for us to build and give authentic trust to enable the growth, creativity and innovation necessary to deal with today’s challenges. I assist executives, professionals and teams to build and give trust. To learn more, click here.
Let’s create a better future today!