Every day we experience trust thousands of times, but we rarely are aware of that. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a life without trust? It is pretty hard to do. I will attempt to do it in this brief article. Trust is so ubiquitous in our lives that we don’t recognize it unless there is some kind of failure.
What is life without trust like?
Let’s take the start of a day and remove the trust to see what it would be like. First thing, the alarm goes off. Oops, we were trusting the alarm to ring at the time we set. If the clock broke or we set it wrong, we would wake up when our bodies got tired of sleeping.
We sit up in bed and turn on the light switch. Oops, we expected the light to go on. If it does not, there could be several different causes to investigate.
We walk into the bathroom and turn on the spigot. Oops, we expected there to be plenty of water and that we could regulate the temperature to suit. We also trust that the water is safe to drink. Unless something unusual is going on, we do not test our water every day.
On and on it goes until finally, we are dressed and ready to go down for breakfast. Of course, we trusted our child to put away his matchbox car. Did he leave it on the stair for us to slip on?
Life without trust at breakfast
We grab the orange juice and have faith that it has not expired. We don’t even check unless it tastes funny. We pop in a vitamin pill without giving any thought to the actual chemicals involved. We also do not picture the person who packaged the pills.
We pour our cereal and assume it is not contaminated by bugs. We turn on the TV to catch the news and our favorite channel works. The number of times we trust at breakfast alone is in the hundreds.
Life without trust in the garage
We are now ready to go to work. We push the button and the garage door goes up automatically. We get in the car and step on the brake. We turn on the ignition and do not think about the thousands of explosions going on under the hood.
We put the car in reverse, and the vehicle backs out slowly, just as we expected.
We get to the end of our street and step on the brake. Magically, the car stops, even though the engine is still running.
We get onto the highway and go over an overpass. We have no compunction about this because we have no reason to suspect the car will fall into the river below.
We simply expect the other drivers to follow conventional rules and laws. Sometimes that is a stretch, especially when it comes to speed limits.
The process is ongoing and never ends
This description was bare bones in order to get the message across in a compact form. You realize there are hundreds of other trust areas I left out.
The point is that on any given day we all experience trust thousands of times and never give it any thought unless there is a failure. If some system has a problem and fails, then we notice it for sure.
What about trust with other people?
Apart from the things and systems in our lives, we have trusting relationships with every other person we know. We have stated or implied agreements on how we will treat each other. When a violation happens, regardless of the reason, we become upset and concerned. We seek to eliminate these annoyances in our lives.
Sometimes the pattern of disappointment with another person reaches a state where we no longer trust the other person with anything. We assume the person will not follow through. When that happens, the relationship is pretty much doomed unless there is a kind of intervention.
It is impossible to live without trust. We manage trust every day of our life in thousands of ways and rarely think about it. Trust becomes the anchor to secure the elements of our lives. Recognize and respect your relationships of trust with systems and people.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPTD, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations