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Thinking About Trust

Thinking About Trust

Trust in other people is one of the foundations for creating a civilized working environment. Many managers are overworked primarily because of a lack of trust. They take on too much themselves, because they don’t trust their subordinates to do the work properly. They cannot allocate enough time to their own work, because they don’t believe people will put in the required time without constant supervision. They attend pointless meetings and read futile cc’d e-mails, because they don’t trust their colleagues not to knife them in the back. And they pile up extra tasks, because they don’t trust suppliers not to cheat them, and customers to stay loyal or resist the temptations put before them by competitors.

In an environment that lacks trust, everyone feels suspicious of everyone else. The subliminal message that runs constantly in the background is to put one over on the other guy before he or she manages to do it to you. Friendly greetings are scanned for evidence of a hidden agenda. It’s almost a relief to face a truly nasty, hostile person, because at least you know where you stand with them.

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Then there’s self-trust: the belief in your own ability to find your way through life and come out more or less where you would like to be. If you don’t trust yourself, it’s hard to develop any trust in others either. That gnawing, internal fear that you’ll probably screw up transfers itself to a suspicion that the other guy is probably waiting to gloat when you do. Lack of self-trust is behind a great deal of the dogmatic and rigid thinking that characterizes so many organizational leaders. If you don’t trust yourself to get it right on your own, the simplest way to avoid embarrassment is to lay down sets of rules and demand obedience to them. It prevents you from needing to find an answer that fits the current circumstances—which you fear you won’t be able to do—and allows you to get off the hook of trusting your own judgment. After all, if things go wrong, the rules were to blame, not you. People who lack self-trust have an extra need to be right all the time to allay their inner feelings of anxiety. In reality, while being right is nice, in the long run it’s more important to learn to trust your own intelligence and judgment than it is to be right every time.

Lack of trust is a symptom of fear. W. Edwards Deming, mostly remembered as the father of the Total Quality movement, said that the primary duty of every leader is to remove fear from the workplace. Yet today fear seems more present, and more powerful, than ever. Managing by fear is ubiquitous, whether it appears as straightforward bullying and dictatorial behavior, or more indirectly through constant reminders that everyone’s job is on the line and those who fail to deliver what is demanded will likely find themselves holding pink slips.

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Where fear and mistrust rule, there can be no happiness, no enjoyment, no creativity, and no sense of meaning in working life. All there will be is suspicion, anxiety, constant pressure, and the belief that protecting your own butt while kicking someone else’s is what work is all about.

Surely it’s time to wake up and see that living like this, however much money is made in the process, is no kind of living at all.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his posts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership. He also posts at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on October 9, 2018

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

  1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
  2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
  3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
  4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
  5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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