When I was a child, I had a tremendous fear of falling. I would climb a tree and I couldn’t trust that the branch wouldn’t break. I climbed cranes, cliffs, and buildings and was always afraid that my footing would slip and I would fall. Perhaps that fear was grounded in the fact that I had already fallen out of trees, off of cliffs, down stairs and off of roofs.
Today there is considerable fear of disease, fear that those in charge are not making the right decisions or fear that some people won’t get a vaccine. There are people that are fearful that they are going to lose their jobs, their businesses, their savings, their lives. There is a significant portion of the population that believes that we are being kept in fear to protect corporate interests. In fact, we live in a curious time where trust in the people around us is lacking.
I was working with a business owner recently who was afraid that her business was going to fail. She had built up a successful business over the past 20 or so years and the recent economic challenges had left her feeling that there was no hope that the business could recover. She told me that she felt that she couldn’t trust her decisions and she wasn’t sure her customers would come back. I could commiserate. In the year 2000, our two-year-old second business was in trouble, I had lost 272,000 dollars in the first year and 70,000 dollars in the second. I had trouble trusting that the decisions I was making were the right ones and that I was in the right place as leader of the company.
In hindsight, that struggle was exactly what I needed. The losses, the challenges, the pain, sorrow and difficulties, while hard to accept at the time, enabled me to learn the skills I would need for future endeavors. I was forced to trust my team, which grew with me and supported our customers and each other when I didn’t have the energy or focus. I grew in my relationships with my family because I had to trust them with my weaknesses and I learned that they would be with me during my darkest hours. I trusted my partners and through this while their trust might have been shaken, they learned to trust that I would see things through. While it was that extremely difficult situation, I was forced to believe that there was a bigger picture, a purpose that was unknown to me, some might say a resolution known only to the “God” in whom I could trust.
A few days ago, I was talking with a young leader who is wise beyond his years. He has faced some recent challenges and told me that he was able to have a breakthrough in his career when he realized that he didn’t always need to be in control. In fact, he told me that things went much better for him when he did his best and let go and left himself open to opportunities. He had begun to trust that he was in the right place at the right time and that he would make the right decisions.
Whether it’s a manager having trust in a staff member, employees having trust in their leader or leaders having trust in their own decisions, trust is foundational for the success of an organization. If we can build trust within our organizations, trust in our decisions and trust within our teams, we will all be able to climb to heights we haven’t imagined.
Dave Fuller MBA, is the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy and a partner in the firm Pivotleader. Dave was able to overcome his fear of heights temporarily by driving fast cars without dying. Don’t be afraid to email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him your thoughts on trust.