We all know intuitively that trust is important, but how could I be so bold as to say it is the most powerful economic force? Because without it, we can’t get things done well or on time. Without it, we lose faith and lose hope that things will get better. Without it, marriages, families, partnerships and systems fall apart.
How much time and energy do we invest in it? Not enough from where I sit.
As a society we are so focused on productivity and getting things done that relationships often come second to our task list. In our professional and our personal lives that we don’t make enough time or have enough energy left to invest what it takes to build trust. Building trust takes: Commitment and following through on our commitments. Communication, communication, communication. Knowing someone deeper than just surface level. Consistently showing up. Being honest…really honest. Showing people you care. Aligning your words with your actions. Admitting mistakes and apologizing. If you are honest with yourself, how much time do you put into these things at work and at home?
Trust is the answer to many of the issues we face, but building it is complex. There is an individual and environmental component. Let’s use organizations as an example. There is a big push right now for empowerment in the workplace that revolves around an employer’s desire for individuals to display more personal responsibility, critical thinking, cooperation, and confident decision making. These are all great things that I agree, will improve morale, performance, and the bottom line of any organization.
However, if we don’t also take a look at the team and organizational dynamics, we could empower a bunch of people who don’t have a safe and open environment to truly be empowered. The issues I believe are at the root are the reasons I founded The Restoration Project:
Most individuals and leaders struggle with worthiness, shame, and confidence issues rooted in a lack of understanding of who they really are.
Most organizations are not safe places for people to be open and show up fully as who they are.
This is what I am so passionate to fix, because I know from experience it resolves many of the other issues inhibiting organizational performance, team effectiveness, and leadership success. It also makes us happier humans who are more fulfilled in our relationships and in our lives.
So how do we go about solving these issues and building a foundation of trust? For individual leaders, it starts with doing your work to trust yourself, and understanding how your personal history, experiences, and conditioning have shaped your choices, perceptions and beliefs. From that place of awareness, we can start to unpack what might be holding you back which typically comes in the form of fear and limiting beliefs.
Time and time again when we unpack this baggage, we see leaders open their minds and hearts to new possibilities and ways of thinking that improve their ability to lead and work with others, perform their day-to-day tasks, make decisions and think critically. People reconnect to their full self: mind, body, and spirit. Intuition, courage, and confidence are reignited. Resilience is restored and the ability to do hard things and navigate complexity grows.
Once we are settled into new mindsets, attitudes, and beliefs, we start to layer in work that enhances clarity and confidence around purpose, core values, and vision so we create ways to be more purposeful about who we are and how we do what we do that are in alignment with who we are at our core. That insight and energy starts to populate into lives in ways that are unexplainably beautiful!
As we move individuals closer to a place of trusting, we need to be adjusting the environment as well. We will only see the individual success grow if we have a safe and open environment. This part can be a bit more challenging to address and adjust because we have to boil the words we use down to specific reinforcing behaviors. For instance, if we say we want people to openly disagree or speak up in a group setting for the sake of cooperation, but the language or behavior of the recipient shuts others down, we will not get the outcome we hoped for. This is where a facilitator and observer is helpful because they can assist with these in-the-moment course corrections, or post-meeting feedback loops.
In your organization, or even in your family, think about the words you use to describe it. They could be core values, spoken directives, or even unspoken rules. Are these aspirational or are they real, as demonstrated by the behavior you see? How do you recognize and reward people, and how does that reflect on the norms you wish to establish?
Trust in an organization, or even a family, can be easily broken by operating out of alignment between words and behaviors. Broken trust inside an environment then inhibits an individual’s performance because they become confused or frustrated by the mixed signals. This is why being aware and intentional about words and behaviors is so important.
I’m not perfect at it, but I’m better than I used to be. Oftentimes I value “going for it” and messing it up over thinking too much about what to say or not saying anything at all. I have to deal with the consequences of that. How I work to maintain my trust is by regularly: asking for feedback, admitting I’m wrong, saying I’m sorry, and requesting forgiveness and another shot. I mess up a lot, so I’ve gotten really good at all these things. I’ve also learned valuable lessons in messing up and failing: I know that no matter what I do or how things turn out, I can learn, grow, and get better if I trust myself and do everything for the sake of building a safe, trusting environment.
Thanks for coming alongside me in this important journey! Questions to ponder below, and if you want to explore this for yourself or your team, we would be honored to assist. Happy reflecting!
Do I trust myself?
Do I trust others?
Do I feel safe showing up fully as myself?
Am I creating a trusting environment for others?
How do I actively build trust?