Month: March 2015

Trust Position or Person?

Ideally, we would be able to trust in individual by the position they hold. If they are leaders, we should feel confident following their lead. However we know that is not always the case.

We can each provide our own list of people in credible positions, but the people in those positions proved not to be credible. One reason that happens is that often those positions, while carrying responsibility, also carry authority, which can be exploited. They also usually carry “perks” that allow advantage to be taken.

Seeing that those who occupy those positions are human beings, with flaws, it’s no wonder the outcomes are sometimes bad. My conclusion from my own experience is that, while providing due respect and deference to the position, it’s best to look closely at the person before total trust is given.

What If…?

Realizing there are pitfalls to asking, “What if…?”, I still like to do so now and then. So, let’s ask a few of those today.

What if in an organization of, say, 1400 people, every single one of them were trustworthy? What if the employee handbook were one page, simply reminding employees to act as ladies and gentlemen? What if each of them looked to the benefit of others, and put themselves second at best? What if the only solution to every problem was simply for everyone to show up?

This may seem somewhat off track, but that’s the point. In no organization bigger than you can every person be perfectly trustworthy. We are dealing with human beings, and as such, will never be absolutely anything! We will have our better days, and our worse ones. Some will be trustworthy, and others will not.

Our job is to avoid being the weak link and always watch out for others to help them along the way. We must assume that some of them want to do better.

Making a Deal

Don’t you enjoy it when you make a deal with someone, and you truly make a deal? There are still people on whom you can count to be there, pay up, provide the service, accomplish the task or provide the ride. These are the people that are the glue which holds our society together.

There used to be an understood “social contract” that didn’t need to be put on paper, but was simply understood by everyone. There were certain things we did and certain things we didn’t. Everyone knew where the lines were, and if someone stepped over it, they did it consciously. When a woman said “no”, that was it. She drew the line, and there would be consequences from several directions if you crossed it.

When someone attempts to blur the lines and tell us there are really no boundaries, and we can do what we want, we should reply “Not on our watch.” Trust will win out.

Don’t Interrupt

One of my favorite quotes is by Henry J. Kaiser. “When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”

What does this mean for the concept of trust? It seems to be one of the key characteristics of trustworthy people. They spend no time interrupting their work. They simply allow it to speak for itself. I hope I don’t have to explain any of what I have done, but can only let it speak.

If we can get to the point where we are comfortable with only an occasional affirmation of our work, but don’t need more, we can go in working, and not be concerned with receiving accolades. We can then continue to do our best. I say, let someone else keep score. A quote I read somewhere (I wish I could take credit, but can’t) is, “The only way to handle praise is to keep on working.” A good lesson of us all.

Being There

The person you can trust will be there. They will not promise to be there. They don’t need to; you know they will. They won’t talk about being there. Again, they don’t need to. They won’t talk later about having been there. They don’t need to. They have nothing to prove, or defend. Their actions and presence speak louder than any claim or explanation.

This is why people talk so much. Their actions are lacking and they have to spend time either to provide cover for the last time or predict what they will do next time. They are full of promises, but empty on follow-through. They cannot be trusted.

So, what do we do with those who claim to be trustworthy, but aren’t? Normally we simply work around them and lower our expectations. We learn not to depend on them. Rather than having a “plan B” in case they don’t show up, we make them the plan B, and go ahead with our own plan A. If we ask ourselves, “If that person was suddenly gone, would we miss them?” We already know the answer.

Self-Trust

In my work I encounter people who say they cannot trust themselves. They would like to, but they have made bad choices for so long they aren’t sure how to make good ones. While sad, it is also honest. I believe that proves the trend can be reversed.

How can a person learn to make good choices, and as a result learn to trust themselves again? One way is by focusing on those around them who have a history of making solid decisions, and don’t hesitate to seek advice. If that sounds a lot like asking for help, it is because it is. What priorities do they set when faced with several choices, and how do they go about deciding what is most important? How do they steer clear of the harmful things and focus on the good ones?

Most of all, what view of life do they have that makes some decisions automatic, and others easier when there are conflicting interests? Most of all, start small, and add to the process as time goes by. Be faithful in small things, and you will then be faithful over bigger things.

What We Don’t Hear

Nearly every day we are told about a prominent person who has broken trust with a number of people, if not a nation. It’s to the point that we nearly expect it, and even make our own blanket statements such as, “They’re all that way.” It does seem that way at times, unless we look elsewhere.

What we don’t hear about are those family members, coaches, clergy, government officials and neighbors who can be trusted and prove it day in and day out. Yet they do exist and we know them. It’s important we recognize it and make a bigger deal of it than we normally see.

Perhaps we should write letters to the editor simply recognizing that trustworthy people are still all around us, and still doing the right things for the right reasons. That would change the tone of at least our communities and perhaps our states. If we persist, we could change the direction of our society on a larger level. It begins lose to home.

Trust in Teamwork

“Class one trauma, ETA five minutes,” the voice on the overhead announces. I head in that direction, wondering what this will be.

When I get to the ER, the team is waiting for the ambulance. Everything is prepared (they stay that way). They wait, some small talk goes on, perhaps to relieve some of the tension before the chaos starts. There is that moment that is amazing. Their adrenaline is beginning to rise, yet they are calm. They know there will be 25 things to do when those doors open.

I love being there to observe. My first job is the listen, watch, and find out information. I listen to the team in the trauma room, and if possible find a corner in which to stand. I want to know if any family is here, and if so, talk to them. If possible I offer reassurance that the team is working and the doctor will be in as soon as he or she can break away. Then I go back to find out more. They communicate in short sharp and fluid phrases. “Five minutes since the last epi (epinephrine)”. “Stop compressions”. “Resume compressions.” “Let’s get another line in.” “I’ve got it.” “Do we have a pulse?” “Yes, we have a pulse.” It seems to go on as long as it take”s.

“Family is in the waiting room,” I tell the doc. He needs to know if they are here and where. This team has to trust each other. They are dealing with life and death. Too many people depend on them to work quickly and efficiently. It is amazing to be with them and part of the effort. The heavy part of my job is after the news is delivered, whether good or bad. I usually escort the family members to the room, to either talk to their live loved one or grieve their loss. The other team members move on the other patients; a nurse or two remains to offer comfort or continue to watch to patient.

This is total trust, and all too rare in our world today. Yet it still exists in critical areas.

Who is Trusted?

The one who listens when he wants to speak;

The one who learns, not content to peak.

The one who tells the truth when pressured to lie;

The one who does not smile when he needs to cry.

The one who is not afraid to admit a mistake;

The one who never considers being a fake.

The one who is credible, and believable;

The one for whom deception is inconceivable.

The one who would never claim perfection;

The one who has walked a long time in the same direction.

Busy or Hectic?

I like days when I am busy, since I hope it means I have done something worthwhile. On the other hand, those days I call “hectic” are my least favorite. It means I seem to run from one thing to another with no chance to reflect on what I’ve done (especially if I don’t get coffee). This makes for quick decisions and reactions with little time for thought. It also allows no time to make changes if I need improvement.

Which brings me to the point: a trustworthy person will create space for reflection and thinking about the day’s, week’s, or month’s events. Some space each day is preferable. At least some each week is better than none. This allows us to step back from daily tasks and see what we are really about. Have we allowed others to change our direction and make demands on us we did not create, or count on? Have we experienced “mission creep” and gradually allowed the general direction to drift from its intended goal?

These things are worth considering, unless we are too “busy” to do so. If we are, then we see the problem. Let’s don’t miss the solution, which is us.