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My intention with each of these posts is that you’re challenged to interrupt the noise and routine in your life, just for a moment, to think more deeply about what really matters in life… your relationship with yourself and with others in your professional and personal life.
Welcome to a new year and and a new monthly series of posts around the topic of TRUST that I hope you will find of value.
Each month through 2021, I’ve made a commitment to Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around The World (TAA-TAW) to research and explore a specific topic that focuses on how trust impacts almost every measure of success in our professional and personal life.
I will be using the acronym TAP INTO TRUST which is an initiative from TAA-TAW.
Each letter in the acronym TAP INTO TRUST represents a one-word topic. Here’s the video for episode 1 on Truth (If you’d rather read than watch, the transcript is below).
This month’s topic is TRUTH
Here’s an aspirational action-based statement for you to reflect and act on over the next month:
I am honest and ethical. I place truth ahead of personal or professional gain in order to preserve my moral character.
In his 2006 book titled ‘On Truth’, author, and professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University Harry Frankfurt sets about the task of explaining why truth is so important to us and why we should especially care about it?’
Quite frankly, the book did my head in … but he does write this:
“Our success or failure in whatever we undertake, and therefore in life altogether, depends on whether we are guided by truth or whether we proceed in ignorance or on the basis of falsehood.”
For me, the important message Frankfurt conveys is the question of whether we are guided by truth in our decisions and actions.
This places the responsibility on each of us to be mindfully aware of what is guiding our decisions and actions.
It also places a responsibility on each of us to be mindfully aware of how our words, advice, decisions, and actions will impact others.
Said another way, not only do we need to make sure our decisions and actions are guided by the truth, so that we can achieve success in our lives, but also, we need to make sure information and advice we share with others is in fact the truth, so that we can help others achieve success in their lives.
This means we need to trust ourselves that what we know is the truth and that what we share is the truth.
Let’s explore that through the three lenses of trust.
When we consider the lens of Self-Trust, to what extent do you believe your decisions and actions are always guided by the truth?
None of us are perfect, and we can easily and often ‘kid ourselves’ (or lie to ourselves). That is, we can be choosing sometimes unintentionally and sometimes intentionally to not be guided by the truth.
While the impact on our success might not be that significant if we lie to ourselves every now and then that having one more glass of wine won’t hurt, or choosing chocolate and chips over fruit and veg is ok just this once, if we lie to ourselves more often than not, it won’t take long for those seemingly insignificant decisions and actions, to not be guided by the truth to have significant impacts on our overall sense of well-being and success.
So, truth matters to our self-trust.
Let’s look at why truth matters when we consider the lens of Trust Others.
When we place our trust in others it can take courage because there is a risk they might let us down … intentionally or unintentionally. When we place our trust in others, we are relying on them to tell us the truth about their progress toward achieving whatever outcome we have both agreed on achieving. We are placing our trust in the truth that they have the competence and access to the resources required to get the job done. We are placing our trust in the truth that they are acting honestly, with integrity and legally.
When someone says to us that they will ‘get it done’, not only are we holding them accountable for telling us the truth, we need to hold ourselves responsible and accountable for placing our trust in them … are we telling ourselves the truth about our real belief in their competence and character and consistency to get the job done.
So yes, truth matters when it comes to trusting in others.
And lastly, let’s look at how truth matters through the lens of Earn Others’ Trust.
Our capacity to earn others’ trust is a demonstration of our trustworthiness which is determined by the assessment of others in our competence to get the job done, our character in the way we go about getting the job done, and the consistent application of our competence and character to get the job done in ways that we and they would be proud.
Are we living up to the promises we make to others? How often do we find ourselves stretching the truth to cover up for our human frailties? Again, none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, and telling the truth when a mistake is made, rather than covering it up or stretching the truth to avoid owning up to a mistake, and working on rectifying the mistake and ensuring it won’t be repeated can help rebuild our capacity to earn others’ trust.
However, an intentional deception is not a mistake … and mostly over time, people will assess your intentions, promises actions and results as to whether you are trustworthy or not.
Once again, truth matters when it comes to earning others’ trust.
Sage Advice in Disruptive Times
One of my most treasured pieces of advice comes from behavioural scientist George Dudley who co-authored the internationally successful and best-selling book “Earning What You’re Worth”. George warns us all to “Watch who you let near your minds”.
I really like that, and there’s a lot of evidence at the moment to suggest we need to take heed of those words – watch who you let near your mind.
While we do need to trust others to tell us the truth, the real responsibility and accountability for truth rests first with ourselves – are we genuinely, critically and mindfully seeking to learn the truth, so that when we are guided by it, or share it with others, we can be confident and proud that we are not only using truth as a guide for our own success but are using truth to help guide the success for others as well.
So, for this next month and beyond, put truth and trust at top of your mind.
That’s it for this month’s Trust Topic. Next month’s episode is on Accountability, and until next month, my very best to you.