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Leading Life: Trust me

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Welcome to the penultimate installment in my Leading Life summer blog post series! (The back-to-school season may be upon us, but we all have a couple more bursts of summer in us, right?)

Today we’ll turn our attention to a critical ingredient of all successful relationships, both personal and professional: trust.

I’ll start with the punchline in case you need to stop reading and squeeze in that final trip to the pool (or dart into yet another store looking for that particular brand of unsharpened pencils that appears clearly on the school supply list but nowhere else in the universe): Trust is everything.

With it, whole new worlds open up. And without it, everything comes to a screeching halt.

At least that’s been my experience. And it turns out that I’m not alone.

Doug Conant, a well-known business leader, puts trust at the center of his leadership framework, explaining, “your actions must be anchored in trust or the flywheel ceases to function properly… you must continually inspire trust at every step along the way.” Similarly, Stephen M. R. Covey chose the subtitle The One Thing That Changes Everything for his bestselling book, The Speed of Trust.

So it may not be surprising that much has been written about how to build trust. I find a lot of this work interesting, and I recommend reading more if you have time. The Trust Project at Northwestern University is an intriguing place to start. I also think that most of us have a decent innate sense of what builds or destroys trust, and that understanding can get us pretty far. So for our purposes, I’ll simply note the key roles of competence and character and leave it at that.

What I’d like to emphasize instead is the critical importance of self-trust, something that can be alarmingly difficult to develop and is no less crucial, whatever your personal or professional circumstances. I’ll be honest… I’m still working on this one myself, but ensuring that I have time to slow down and reflect is key. Working with a coach has been a huge help, too.

And I’m convinced that taking a little time to inventory and celebrate our successes can be a big self-trust builder. So why not spend a few minutes writing down (stream-of-consciousness style) everything you’ve learned or accomplished today, over the past week, over the past month, over the past year, over the past decade, or over your lifetime? If you have time, go a little deeper and reflect on how your strengths and choices enabled those achievements. What better way to remind yourself of your own competence and character?

Trust me, you won't regret it.

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