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A Matter of Trust

Bob Dare

November 2015

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Trust is the foundation for any positive relationship, whether it is an organization, a military unit and even a family. Trust is a choice one makes. When we board a commercial airliner we trust that the crew is dedicated, professional and competent. When we visit our doctor we trust that he/she is able to accurately diagnose our malady. When we hire a technician to service our heating or air conditioning we trust that the report he renders, and the bill he provides, reflects the truth associated with his services. There are a number of other examples I could cite but I think the point is clear, trust is a necessity.

I am a very trusting person, and to a fault my wife reminds me. I rarely count the change I receive. I take people at their word. I believe that the vast majority of people are honest, want to do a good job and prefer the Golden Rule over dishonesty and distrust. It is a choice I have made for some time and it is what makes me rise each day and greet life with a smile and optimism.

Some years ago I was privileged to serve in the US Army's ceremonial unit, The Old Guard, (TOG). The Soldiers of TOG are charged with performing a myriad of highly visible ceremonies from posting our Nation's Colors to providing the final salute and honors to those deceased Soldiers and their family members. The caring, attention to detail, commitment and professionalism that must be displayed daily by those honored to serve in TOG cannot be understated.

I stood near my new company commander one morning as we dispatched squads and platoons in numerous directions to perform those ceremonies I mentioned above. I knew these Soldiers. They were trained and dedicated. I trusted them.

"First Sergeant", said the young Captain, "Who is checking on these squad leaders and team leaders? How do we know they will not screw up their mission?"

"Captain", I replied, "Every day we take off our rank and hand it to these Soldiers. We send them out all around Washington DC. There are a thousand things that can go wrong, all of which will cause the two of us great discomfort and unwanted attention. I have been here for 30 months and the one thing I can tell you is that each day when the vans and buses return our troops, they return with our rank intact, safe and sound. You have to trust them Sir."

Those Soldiers never fractured the trust I had for them. Their behavior reinforced in me that when you trust others, they will deliver. A trusting environment engenders positive performance. This does not mean mistakes will not be made. Mistakes occur, but I have found that when you trust first, the mistakes are minimal and honest, and the manner in which you mitigate those mistakes is instructive and constructive rather than demeaning and retaliatory.

Trust is not without risk. Trust is like a fine piece of crystal, when it is cracked it is gone, and it is expensive to replace. I have had only a few people who have fooled me and have lost my trust. It is disappointing when this happens, but it has not changed my conviction and my choice to first trust. I look for the good in everyone and every experience. When disappointment hits, trust gives me the strength to accept it, learn from it and to positively move on.

True Growth Takeaway: When you trust more, you get more.

True Growth Journal Questions: Who do you distrust? Why?

About the author: Bob Dare served 28 years in the United States Army. He held every noncommissioned officer leadership position culminating with his last three assignments as Command Sergeant Major for the 25th Infantry Division, United States Army Pacific Command and United States Army Forces Command. Bob is also an executive coach and facilitator for LWM III Consulting.

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