Trust is the common thread in every successful relationship, family, team, organization and business undertaking. The erosion of trust can bring the biggest, most powerful business, family or relationship to an end. When trust is present, leveraged and created, unlimited potential is unleashed that can alter the trajectory of your life. Sadly, over a decade of corporate scandals, ethical failures, downsizing and turbulent times have created a degree of cynicism about trust in anyone. The developing trust gap is clear when you look at the current research on trust in America. According to a 2013 AP-GK poll, one-third of Americans say they do not trust others, and 42% report, “you can’t be too careful in dealing with others.”
Think about those you know professionally and personally. If they were asked to choose from the following two phrases, “I tend to trust this person, or I tend not to trust this person,” which would they choose to describe you and why? Becoming someone others can trust is, without question, the key to long-term success. How trust operates in our lives and how trustworthy we are perceived by others, to begin with, our ability to trust ourselves. Without trusting yourself, you cannot establish, develop and offer trust to others. When we lose trust in our own ability to keep commitments and walk our talk, we fail to develop the personal strength of character and credibility that inspires others’ trust. How do you become someone others can trust? The power to become someone others trust resides within each of us. Taking an inside-out approach by first learning to trust yourself is what leads to building the credibility and character needed for others to trust you.
Creating trust is not easy. It is scary and risky and requires that you be willing to place your success in the hands of other people. But it is a risk that you cannot afford not to take. Genuine trust doesn’t require that you trust blindly or unconditionally; it means that you focus and commit to making the creation of trust an unambiguous objective. The key to creating the genuine trust needed to accept the risk of trusting others fully and the possibility of betrayal is first to be sure that you honor the commitments you make to yourself and act with clarity and integrity in even the small things in life. Without trust in oneself, your ability to judge scams or opportunities, credible or not credible, is diminished. Trusting others and having others trust you begins when you start trusting yourself. Self-trust is defined as the reliance on the integrity, character and competence of one’s ability to act in ways that demonstrate to yourself that you are a person within whom trust can be placed. When you prove to yourself that you are trustworthy, others see and recognize that and more easily place their trust in you.
Here are some thoughts about how to develop self-trust. Ask yourself if you embody these thoughts. If not, make the changes to develop the self-trust you need to create a better future for yourself and those you interact with.
Trust Your Intentions, Motives and Build a Sense of Integrity/Character
Trusting your intentions and motives leads to developing integrity. Trust grows when our motives are straightforward, and they demonstrate benefit to others and ourselves. Having confidence in taking self-directed action to bring about principled decisions and tirelessly and openly communicating your intentions and rationale (motives) to yourself helps you gain clarity and understanding of your internal values and operating principles. It is about walking your talk and having the courage to act in accordance with your values and beliefs. Establish credibility with yourself by not lying or stretching the truth about your actions, strengths and weaknesses. Remember, it is the little breaches of trust or dishonest acts that can also gradually weaken and corrode your credibility. Trusting yourself is grounded in self-awareness and being well-intentioned. It means consistently behaving and acting in ways that honor the commitments you make to yourself and those around you. Being able to fulfill your promises to yourself helps you believe that you are worthy of the trust of others. If you don’t see yourself as trustworthy, it is not likely that others will.
Build Expertise, Credibility and Hold Yourself Accountable
Build trust by becoming and demonstrating competence. Develop a high degree of competence by gaining and developing your talents, attitudes, skills and knowledge. Have a clear understanding of your ethical code and know that simply because you can do something does not mean you should. Expertise comes from the right knowledge, skills, and capabilities. Rely on your competence and character and hold yourself accountable for your actions, choices and decisions. Create a track record of success based on your commitment to meeting the goals you set for yourself. Be true to who you say you are and know your limitations and strengths. You become who you say you are by showing what you value, honor and commit to doing. Once you develop a pattern of self-awareness, you will know who you are, and so will those around you.
Be “Selfish” – Engage in Self-Care and Self-Support
Being connected and showing care and concern for yourself helps you develop a passion for who you are and what you stand for. Being selfish and engaging in self-care and self-support is not self-absorption or being narcissistic or self-serving. It means taking care of your needs so that you can meet the needs of others. It gives you clarity about the intentions and motives that underlie your actions. No longer tolerating limiting critical or demeaning self-talk leads to judging yourself and others less harshly. Being selfish in this sense means that you accept that you and everyone else are imperfect. Treat yourself as you would a respected colleague or trusted friend. Self-care and self-support increase resilience, self-confidence and self-esteem. Self-care and self-support create an environment of deep trust in you that leads to a willingness to trust others.
Focus on Improving Your Relationship with Yourself
A huge part of leadership is seeing the potential, talents and purpose in others and nurturing and developing those in them. Trust in oneself means exploring, valuing, practicing, recognizing and developing your gifts, talents, and skills. Finding a purpose for your life and following your inner path enables you to be open and encouraging not only with yourself but those around you. Trust creates an opportunity to create a sense of “being in the flow” – that mind-body connection where things seem to come naturally and without having to try not to try. Trusting and focusing on developing a great relationship with yourself does not mean minimizing your flaws or perfecting yourself. It means being fully open to exploring and behaving in ways that create who you are in actions, words and deeds. This all leads to being who you say you are. Creating the space for you to become the best version of who you are and trusting that you have the ability to do that opens up the path for you to trust others. Trusting yourself paves the way for discovery.
Embarking on the journey to attain or master self-trust means you are on the pathway to creating the level of trust you need to offer others. Focusing on the areas where you need to improve will give you the wisdom you need to become someone others can trust. Trusting yourself gives you the courage and the willingness to risk the betrayal of your trust by both yourself and others. No doubt there will be missteps along the way; however, trusting in your ability to learn from your mistakes creates a renewed basis for building trust in yourself. Trust underpins every decision, communication and situation you are engaged in. Once you have the self-awareness you need to trust fully in yourself, you will be able to consistently demonstrate the character and competence you have worked so hard to achieve. Once you trust yourself, you have everything you need to offer that trust to others and unleash their potential for success.
How do you develop the self-trust you need to be the person others tend to trust? Please share your successes with me in the comments field below.