Our Trusted System
Our water, our food, our fuels, our driving, our flying, our entire existence depends on inherent and implicit trusted relationships. To simplify this to the basics, imagine as you drink a glass of water, coffee or other while you read this post, how many people had something to do with the drink you are consuming (if you are consuming one). If it is coffee with milk and some form of sweetener, this could be hundreds of people that touched a part of this thing you are consuming.
We trust naturally through our perception of “some physical thing” over the idea that this “thing” whatever it is, came from many hands and hearts. When I button my shirt in the morning or tie my tie, I am not consciously considering the minds that imagined and created what I am wearing or the hands that created it, mass-produced it, shipped it, stocked it, sold it or purchased it.
When I was in my mid-20’s I had the chickenpox virus. I wasn’t feeling well and found my way to the hospital (which within itself was a fun story). Once I got the hospital, I walked in and sat down waiting to sign in. I have no idea at that time what I looked like but I was very dizzy and I was in and out of it. It was the Army hospital at West Point, and a young male nurse walked up to me and said, “don’t worry bro, I got you.” I don’t remember what happened from there although, I do remember feeling fear and tears streaming from my eyes. We didn’t know it was chickenpox at the time and all I could do was surrender to someone else’s care. I woke up a few days later in a hospital bed, learning that I was partially blind, couldn’t breathe and almost died. While I took the action to get me to the hospital, the Army took it the rest of the way to get me back to normal. It occurred to me later in life, that under many conditions I had a willingness to trust people I’d never met over people I knew. The Army nurse said he had me covered, I don’t think I could have gotten up to run out the door but even if I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t have. I just trusted him. Many years later, my youngest son was bitten in the face by a dog, it was one of the scariest things my wife and I faced together. It was the same thing though. We got to the hospital and we worked with the doctors and had a natural and instantaneous affinity to trust these people.
With this, I asked myself. If I can trust people I have never met under the most extreme conditions, what is stopping me from trusting people that I know?
Let’s please consider this:
If you are having a conversation with an employee and you question everything she does while you are drinking a bottle of “Forever Chemical Springs”, who is more likely to harm you? Why wouldn’t we apply the same rules of trust to the people we interact within our everyday lives? If we couldn’t trust them in the same way we trust the water company, we need to do something about that.
How about the concept of trust but verify? Do you have a water test for every bottle you drink? Even when you read the food labels and see the ingredients, many of us still consume the food. What about the chemicals on our clothing? What about the drivers around us on their cell phones? We trust ourselves in the car but we also have to trust those around us to drive safely. We trust ourselves in the airplane seat, but we have the ultimate faith in the pilot, the airplane and the unpredictable weather.
If we can trust all of these things with our lives, what is stopping us from extending this trust in our teams and our people?
- Will people fail? Yes.
- What do we do about this failure? It will erode our trust.
It is my opinion if we are resigned to live in distrust, we will fail much more often than succeed. We may even live a safe life from our mind’s eye or our own perception. That said, it would be and is an illusion. We can remove dependencies on others and take it all on ourselves but in the end, we will never be able to do all things on our own.
Real Challenge – “In Folks We Trust”
Context is work. Let’s consider a few concepts. You are a leader or you are working with a leader.
- Would you trust the person to hand you a bottle of water with the cap on, locked and unbroken?
- Would you trust the person to provide you with a pitcher of water and cups?
- Would you trust the person to provide you with a cup of water?
Take a moment to think about these three questions in your next meeting. If you would only trust them to hand you a bottle. You trust them less than the water company and all those people packing the water and delivering it behind the scenes.
If you trust the person to provide you a pitcher, you trust them more than the water company but less than your perception of their handling your water at the last leg of the journey to you.
If you trust them to pour you a cup. Then you are in the zone of trusting them as much or more than the water provider and the last mile the water traveled. In other words, they wouldn’t put Visine in your water (so you believe!)
In my view, if I can’t trust my team to bring me a cup of water, I am failing myself and them. That said, I do trust them. This trust allows us to move faster, recover faster, feel better, and feel more confident. It also allows us to succeed more with better outcomes.
What do you think? I’d like to know.