Just outside Beijing, China, there is an area called Hebei. Nestled among the jagged edges of the local mountains which are covered in deep green foliage, tourists and locals have the rare opportunity of seeing the sights from the precarious perch of a long, towering glass bridge. Yes, the entire bridge is made of glass. And if that wasn’t enough, as you bravely traverse across the spectacle, sensors built into the bridge trigger frightening sounds and projected images of individual glass panels breaking with each step.
Now that you’re back from checking this out on YouTube, consider the above example the polar-opposite of being trustworthy. If you’re the bridge’s designer and engineer, you’re probably thinking—with great expertise, mind you—that its reliability and safety are undeniable. You wouldn’t build it,let alone get the permission to build it, if you weren’t. But to then make the decision to have interactive glass panels appear as if they were shattering is just downright cruel, and removes any reality of it being safe regardless of fact.
Why TRUST is Important
No matter where you are or what you do in life, how far you’ll go is all based upon trust. Without it—with even a whiff of being untrustworthy—you’re sure to mostly experience failure and struggle. More importantly, there is a huge difference between being trusted and being trustworthy. Say, for instance, that the glass bridge wasn’t glass at all, but made up of more traditional materials. You’d likely not be so hesitant to cross and enjoy the beautiful view along the way. But if the sounds and the appearance of it breaking apart were still present in some fashion, you’d likely make a quick bee-line back to solid ground regardless of its sturdy construction.
If your desire is to be a trustworthy person, you have to start by giving others a reason to trust you. Trust is earned, and from repeatedly earned trust comes a reputation of trustworthiness. In leadership, this is super important. Those you lead have to have their trust in you seen as a great treasure. If you can honestly believe in that, you’ll be off to a great start in building yourself as someone who is trustworthy.
But you might ask, “Why bother? I’m in charge and how they feel shouldn’t matter.” Well, consider the philosophical approach to business J. Willard Marriott had when he launched his little hotel company way back in 1927. He taught his employees to treat each other with great respect and positivity, and from that, they’d feel more inclined to treat customers the same way. In other words, set your coworkers up for success, and they will not only work to help you succeed in kind, but you’ll also get the added bonus of having pleased clientèle who get to work with them. Look, there’s a reason Marriott International is the #1 hotel company in the world, and it all began with J. Willard’s vision of creating a workplace that encourages and fosters trust. And to put all of this into perspective, think of a major project you had to do in recent weeks or months. Now imagine how much easier it would have been to motivate yourself to complete it well if the person who tasked you with doing it not only encouraged you, but came alongside to help and see you succeed. When you lead others in this way, you foster the same mentality which then naturally trickles down and benefits many more.
Much like the bridge, your success in life is not just predicated on how trusted you might be in the moment, but how trustworthy you are over time regardless of perspective. You may be able to occasionally give the illusion that you can be trusted, but each time you fail, you’ll leave nothing but compounding impressions that you cannot be trusted, and that you’re therefore certainly untrustworthy.
Relationally, trust is a terrific thing to earn and to have. Professionally, trust is essential. And in all things, building up your trustworthiness will surely lead to greater success for everyone.