As a child, I had a tremendous fear of falling. I would climb a tree and 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 cliffs, down stairs, off roofs.
Today there’s considerable fear of disease, fear that those in charge aren’t making the right decisions, fear that some people won’t get a vaccine for COVID-19.
There are people who fear they’re going to lose their jobs, businesses, savings – even their lives.
A significant portion of the population believes we’re being kept in fear to protect corporate interests.
In effect, 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 built a successful business over 20 or so years and the recent economic challenges left her feeling there was no hope that the business could recover. She told me she felt she couldn’t trust her decisions and wasn’t sure her customers would come back.
I could commiserate. In the 2000, our two-year-old second business was in trouble, I had lost $272,000 in the first year and $70,000 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, challenges, pain, sorrow and difficulties, while hard to accept at the time, enabled me to learn the skills I would need for future endeavours.
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. 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 an 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 he was able to achieve a breakthrough in his career when he realized he didn’t always need to be in control.
He told me things went much better for him when he did his best and let go, leaving 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 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 an award-winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Don’t be afraid to email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him your thoughts on trust.
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