Norton: Keeping an eye on trust (column)
There is old saying that many storytellers rely on, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
Today, many of us struggle with where the truth starts and stops, and what is just a good story. The problem is that is completely eroding any and all sense of trust that we have right now.
And then there is this parable about trust. Fire, Water and Trust decided to go on a hike together. As they approached the trailhead, they stopped and talked about having a plan in place in case they became separated. They all agreed that this was a good idea. Fire spoke up first and said, “Well, if you are looking for me, just look for smoke, because where there’s smoke, there is fire.” Water spoke up next and said, “To find me, just look for lush green grass, flowers and thriving trees, and where you find them, you will find me too.” Finally Trust jumped in and warned, “You better keep an eye on me for sure, because once trust is lost, it is really hard to find again.”
We have lost so much trust these days, haven’t we? I mean sometimes it feels like we can’t trust anyone or anything. We doubt our friends, we don’t know where our company is leading us, people say one thing and do another. The lack of trust is so palpable that it is spilling over into our personal lives, too, doing serious damage to our relationships. We find ourselves looking over our shoulder with a sense of cynicism and we anticipate what is up ahead of us with a suspicious eye peering around every corner.
Is it a question about trusting our politicians? Or should we look more deeply at trusting our own politics? If your answer is both, you win. Trust is something that is earned, and what feels like to many of us, something that is broken. And it appears that way because we have crossed over into the point of no return politics. What do I mean by that? We have seen where individuals and politicians are reaching out and asking for us all to come together, even stating that their earlier positions on topics, important topics to us all, may have been wrong. They try and come back into the center, but invariably, that’s not good enough for someone from the other party. They would rather continue to tweet and post messages or videos from the past and from someone who happens to be championing a different point of view at the time. It has become a feeding frenzy.
Trust will never be found again or earned again by anyone if our extremism and fanaticism remain where it is today. The point of no return politics has already ruined and corrupted our country, are we really going to let it drive a wedge so far between us as a people that we will continue to erode our trust in one another to the point of no return? And if so, who can ever stand up as a leader and who can withstand the scrutiny of opinion and judgment driven by bias without knowledge, by opinion without fact?
If we can’t trust our politicians at the very highest levels, and we can’t trust the systems that drive our politics, then who can we trust? At a minimum, we have to be able to trust one another. We have to be able to come to the center, or at least close enough to it where we can talk rationally about how to fix the brokenness. Trust lost is not easily found as we read in the parable above. But it’s not impossible to be found and earned again.
There is a Proverb that reads, “A gentle response turns away wrath.” Perhaps as we consider building trust with one another again, we begin with listening first, seeking first to understand and responding with gentleness instead of wrath.
So how about you? How is your trust level these days? Can we get back to trusting one another? I would love to hear your story of trust at firstname.lastname@example.org and when we can learn to come back to center and restore trust, it really will be a better-than-good-world.
Michael Norton is the president of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker. He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.