Quit Your Job… You Are Not the Trust Ref

(Guest Author Richard Fagerlin written for Real. Simple. Leadership.)

If trust isn’t something that is earned (see past post here), then how do we approach relationships so we don’t get hurt, abused, or simply taken advantage of? This is the question that most often comes with the exposure of the big lie. Also, you may be thinking of 3 or 30 people that you think — no you know — would take advantage of you if you simply gave them your trust.

Let me address that but not yet… (this is for the next post)

Since we can’t keep score, it’s time to submit your resignation letter as Trust Referee of your relationships. Time to stop keeping tabs of who is ahead and who is behind. If you are like me, this won’t be easy. I trust ref my friends, I trust ref my colleagues, and I even trust ref my wife. I love my wife very much. We have been married for more than 17 years, we have four wonderful children together, and are truly best friends. But I still struggle with the mind-shift of not keeping score on a daily basis.

I want nothing more than to see my wife thrive. To see her vibrant and doing what she loves. I want her to be encouraged and loved in a deep way — and then I become a bonehead. I find myself counting up my good deeds and her not-so-good deeds. I hope that you can’t identify with this. But, chances are you can. Giving trust without keeping a record of rights and wrongs isn’t easy, but it is essential to win the war for relationships at home and at work.

Love is supposed to keep no record of wrongs. Love is supposed to endure, it is supposed to last beyond the moment or temporary satisfaction. I think trust is like love. Trust should keep no record of wrongs. Once you’ve made a decision to trust someone, once you’ve decided that winning at that relationship is non-negotiable, you have to stop keeping score—whether the relationship is with your spouse or your colleague. Stop keeping track of how much more work you get done, how many times you hold your tongue or how many good ideas you present at meetings.

It will still bother you when your colleague is late or your boss discounts your opinion. It will hurt when a colleague steals your idea for their own or when you get passed over for a promotion or opportunity by someone that doesn’t seem to play fair.

Not keeping score doesn’t mean ignoring a bad situation. Healthy conflict can be necessary. Address the situation with wisdom…

but don’t make trust conditional upon a person’s good score.

Trust them. If conflict does need to happen, it will go much better when it happens from a place of trust.

The number one reason why trust cannot be earned is that even if we could find a perfect way to keep score of the performance of every one of our colleagues, no one could do enough good things to guarantee that they wouldn’t disappoint us in the future.

Trust has never existed in a risk-free environment. No matter how well you know someone, given enough opportunities, everyone will fall short in some way or another. If that’s not a reality you’re willing to accept, then you’re never going to have high-trust relationships. At some point, one of the parties involved has to take the risk of giving trust.


richard-fagerlinRichard Fagerlin is the founder and president of Peak Solutions.

With over 20 years of leadership and organizational development experience, he is a sought-after speaker, consultant and facilitator. Richard travels internationally helping clients intentionally create a culture of high trust and to be on purpose with developing leaders at all levels of the organization. In 2015 & 2016 Richard was named one of the top 100 thought leaders on Trust in the world.

A Colorado native, Richard enjoys the beautiful Rocky Mountains with his wife and four boys. His favorite team is whichever one his four boys are currently playing on. He is active in his community while serving on the board of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and Mill City Church.

(Scott’s addition: Richard is also the author of a really good book, “Trustology: The art and science of leading high-trust teams”.  It’s one of my personal favorites.  Learn more at www.trustologybook.com.)

Twitter:  @richardfagerlin   •   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardfagerlin

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