Trust travels. But the speed depends on you.
Ahh high school. There’s something about the warm smell of rubber pizza in the air. Cheerleaders practicing their half time routine at lunch. Baseball players creating over the top handshakes during passing periods. And a social studies professor calmly scrutinizing a cognitively underdeveloped adolescent, who felt the need to steal an exam in order to get an A. That was me. I’m the cognitively underde- oh hell let’s just call it what it is. Stupid. I was stupid.
You see, it turns out that guys actually mature TREMENDOUSLY slower than girls. I couldn’t be a better example than that.
Kentlake Falcon football games were a good time! Here I am pictured with too many friends to count!
I was a TOOL in high school (save the, “You still are” jokes for later."). I severely suppressed my abilities. I just couldn’t find the will to actually apply myself. One day my sophomore year, I took it a step too far. My professor, let’s call him John, was a very respectable teacher. He was kind, soft-spoken, but tough as nails. He just so happened to also be a good family friend of mine.
John had printed out our exams a day early, and stacked them neatly on his desk. During class that day, the cognitively underdeveloped adolescent known as myself decided it would be a grand idea to “borrow” a test. You know, just to make sure he didn’t make any mistakes. Sorta like Nicolas Cage borrows the Declaration of Independence in National Treasure.
Hours later, because my loud mouth couldn’t keep a secret, half the school was aware I was in possession of John’s History 237 exam. But no one would tell John that, would they? Ha. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Before class the next day, student’s approached me to warn of the storm headed my way.
“Dude John TOOOTALLY knows you stole the exam bro!”
“You are so screwed Derek.”
“Have fun in suspension idiot!”
Never has my anxiety been so high. I show up to class and take my regular assigned seat. After the bell rings, John stands up from his chair. “Derek, why don’t we step out in the hall for a second?” My heart dropped to my toes. I did my best to act as if I had no idea what was going on. I knew exactly what was going on. John proceeded to calmly rip my dignity to shreds. He ended up catching wind earlier that morning, and had to redo the entire test before first period because he had no clue who had laid eyes on the stolen exam. I had successfully tarnished any and all trust that was between us. It was probably--no definitely--the worst feeling in the world. Trust takes years to build, but just seconds to destroy. It is the single most important dynamic in any relationship.
I’ll never forget what he said to me just before I reluctantly crawled back into class. “Derek, one day we’ll be at a summer barbecue, drinking a beer, looking back on this day and laughing about it. But today, I’m not laughing.” Well John, I think I owe ya a beer. Maybe a burger too.
Trust: In Yourself
“To build trust with others, we must first start with ourselves.” –Stephen M. R. Covey
It’s an inside-out approach really. Similar to love, how can you expect others to trust you, if you don’t trust yourself? Just because you don’t trust yourself, doesn’t mean you can’t. Those words are not synonymous. Again, similar to love, instilling trust within yourself can be achieved by increasing your vulnerability, accountability and credibility.
Here’s an example. How often are you hitting that snooze button? Do you really think another 10 minutes of interrupted sleep is really benefiting you? How are you justifying it? Face it, when you set your alarm the night before, your intentions are not dedicated to truly waking up at that time, because you don’t trust yourself to. Instead, you rationalize why you shouldn’t get up.
“I stayed up later than usual watching one too many episodes.”
“I can always exercise after work.”
“Just 10 more minutes.”
Adjust your approach. Commit to a time, and wake up. If you feel the need for a few extra minutes, give it to yourself. The mornings you need to wake up early, follow through with that promise. Failing to execute is only cheating yourself, and diminishing self-trust.
Practice these approaches to improve your self-trust
- Keep promises to yourself. Be your own best friend.
- Avoid people who undermine your self-trust. The dream smashers, the naysayers, the individuals who hate to see you succeed. This negativity is directly affiliated with your ability to develop self-trust.
- Speak kindly to yourself. Eliminate the dark voices in your head. Next time you make a mistake, or regret an action, pause for a second. “It’s all good, just a small slipup”. Learn from it, don’t dwell. Be sure to get back on that horse and continue to learn from your mistakes. Remember it’s okay to fail. When you are more understanding with yourself, you’re more understanding with others.
Live by this simple philosophy; if you can do something about it, why are you worrying? If you can’t, again, why worry?
Trust: In Your Team
It’s the Spring of 2015. Flowers are blooming, fountains are spewing, and finals are fast approaching. The world often projects us into less than ideal situations to test our will. These less than ideal situations seem to occur far too often in college. Then again, your textbook can’t be your only source of knowledge.
I was placed in a group with five of my peers in a business management class. Our task was to film a commercial intended to promote that particular course. Not a single one of us had film experience. My team and I sat down and began brainstorming, only to realize we had no idea what we were doing.
Team trust, or lack thereof, would be the primary factor contributing to my lack of sleep the next few weeks.
Instead of reaching out to my team, I took it upon myself to complete this daunting project. Merely because I didn’t trust them. I thought to myself, “How hard could it be to film a 60 second spot for a business class? Let alone one I’m currently enrolled in. This’ll be cake.” IT WASN’T CAKE. I spent the next two weeks filming, deleting, editing, filming again, deleting, editing, deleting more, deleting all of it, filming, did I mention deleting? After many long nights, I had a finished product. But at what cost? And I mean that in the literal way. When trust is diminished, cost goes up. Commonly known as a trust tax. Lowered trust also reduces speed. A relatively simple team task, took me weeks to complete because I lacked the ability to trust in my team.
Increasing team trust isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s especially difficult when dealing with temporary group projects. Everyone will tell you to be patient, respectful, and flexible. However it’s far easier said than done. In order to build team trust, you have to be tactical.
- People’s Pet Peeves: Whether your team has been together for years, or has just recently formed, identifying what makes your peers cringe is a simple exercise that aids in strengthening transparency and honesty. Go around in a circle, and be open as to what drives you absolutely crazy.
- Behavioral Tendencies: There are thousands of personality and characteristic tests on the World Wide Web. Have your team share what type of person they are. Extrovert vs. Introvert? Auditory vs. Visual? Communicative vs. Technological? Understanding your colleague’s natural behaviors allows you to personalize your approach.
- Vulnerability in Leadership: When there’s an absence of hierarchy or management within the group, a leader is often hard to identify. However, even without formally seeking one out, a leader seems to always emerge. It is extremely important that the individual in charge displays genuine vulnerability. Take risks, fail often, and extend trust to your “subordinates”.
Developing trust starts with you. It’s maintained by transparency, and upheld by accountability.
Here’s a snapshot from our company re-brand photo shoot! Corny or nah?
Who cares, we look GOOD! (That's me on the far right.)
Trust: In Your Company
Cul·ture (ˈkəlCHər): The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.
If trust fails to make it to the top of shared values within an organization, it will cost said company time, money, and innovation. A workplace that lacks honesty and transparency will inevitably create employee dissatisfaction, which reflects directly onto productivity and increased turnover.
It takes a village to raise a child. That child is your company. Organizational trust is so difficult to achieve, because it takes everyone trusting in themselves, and their teams. Departments rely on one another to complete objectives, meet deadlines, and raise that little child into a well-respected, honest, successful organization that embodies the single most important characteristic a company can have. Trust. That trust carries over into your day to day business. How does trust affect your customers? Do they trust in your product? Do they trust in your people? How do you develop trust with them?
Here at Populus Group, no one says it better than the head honcho himself. President Bobby Herrera.
Trust before value.
The reason why I felt compelled to swipe that exam was because I was deprived of self-trust. I didn’t believe in myself. I let the value of a good grade come before the vital dynamic of trust. For that reason, I was unable to extend trust to others. Because trust starts with me.
It starts with you.
It starts with us.
Be the change you want to see in your team. Instill trust and let it travel throughout your company. This chain reaction could very well be the spark that ignites the flame of success. At PG we believe in doing things in the right order, for the right reasons.
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody, is to trust them.” –Ernest Hemingway.
S/O to Stef Destef and the Speed of Trust curriculum for the inspiration to write this piece on trust.
Senior Photos...I’m going to make fun of myself so you don’t have to do it for me. WHY THE EARRINGS THO?!