I’ve been thinking a lot about trust lately. This past spring, my cell phone was taken from a secure room. While I TOTALLY take responsibility for leaving my phone unattended, circumstances made it so I couldn’t go back to get it for an hour…fast forward to the end of that hour and yup, you guessed it, the phone was gone. As irony would have it, I was having a conversation about the importance of being transparent with business partners…aka building TRUST…right around the same time as my phone went walking.
Trust is something we learn at an early age. By as early as the age of 4, children are able to differentiate between people who are trustworthy and those who are not. With people coming and going in our lives, earning trust and losing it, it’s no wonder that people worry about whether or not people will disappoint them.
An example of this comes through the research I did after having a conversation about building trust with business partners. I started to dive into the world of Venture Capital (VC) and the claim that someone else I know made about the importance of building trust. Nearly every article was urging people to avoid trusting VC’s at all cost, but then I stumbled across an article that talked about how circumstantial trust was in these relationships. They basically preached that sometimes you shouldn’t trust and other times you’d have mixed trust, but they never said you should fully trust VC’s. I found this fascinating because, as I’m sure you can see from the phone incident, my instinct is to trust. I trusted that it would still be there when I went back. I trusted that the people who had access to that room would have the same level of respect for my belongings as I would have for their belongings if the situation was reversed. And that’s just the point…trust is tricky. You have to have it to build relationships that will withstand the test of time, but it can really come bite you if the people on the other side (regardless of the depth of the relationship) don’t have the same level of trust in those around them. We can talk about respect and ethics a different time…
For children, in my opinion, it’s important to teach cautious optimism. The study in the second paragraph shows that they will be able to determine a lot about a person on their own without us holding their hand every step of the way, but that doesn’t mean we should also try to shield them from the crazy stuff happening in the world. Not everyone is good and not everyone will try to protect them, so it’s important to address their questions head on when they ask them…especially as they work their way through problems and learn about the world. This will enable them to continue to trust their instincts and put themselves out there, but also to protect themselves to an extent as they make their way through life.