Training Your Brain

April 9, 2016

Life is constantly changing and throwing challenges our way. Using Emotional Intelligence helps us respond to these changes wisely, but we also have to monitor our daily self-talk and overall attitude toward life.

When circumstances or other forces prevent us from experiencing life in a way that makes the most sense to us, we often turn sour and develop what is known as a “bad attitude.”

This mindset becomes manifest in numerous familiar ways from pouting, to doubting, to shouting, and even to clouting. We may even lose our motivation to keep moving forward.

Is there a universal secret that can help people keep a more positive attitude most of the time? Let me share two extremes.

I know a woman who wears a pin with ruby slippers on it. She is like a ray of sunshine who is on a constant crusade to spread as much cheer as she can with everyone. Does she ever have a bad day? I’ll bet she does, but I have never seen her really down. She lives in a very nice world, even when some people are not very nice to her.

I ran into a different woman in a hair salon this past week. The woman spoke in a constant stream of babble. She literally could not stop talking. Every phrase she uttered was negative. For her, the world was the pits, and she was forced to endure a steady stream of clueless morons.

I marvel over these two extremes. Ask yourself seriously, where on the scale between these two extremes do you reside most of the time?

I need to make a distinction here between the majority of people who have some control over their thoughts and the few people who have deep psychological problems based on disease or prior traumas.

There are people who feel they must lash back at the world because of what they have been forced to endure. Perhaps it was some kind of physical or mental abuse when they were a child. Perhaps there was a total betrayal by a trusted loved one. For these people, trying to alter their mental state by thinking positive thoughts might further repress some gremlins that need to come out with professional help.

For the majority of folks, even though we have some issues to resolve, learning to have a more positive attitude could be a major step forward in terms of leading a happier life.

The greatest power God gave us is the power to choose. I learned that from Lou Holtz 25 years ago in a video entitled “Do Right.” What Lou meant is that the choice is ours where we exist on the scale of attitude.

So, how come many people choose to dwell on the negative side of life? Is it because they enjoy being miserable? I think not. I believe if a person realizes there is a more enjoyable place to dwell, he or she will do the inner work necessary to gravitate toward it.

The reason many people live in misery is because they simply do not know (or fail to remember) that they have the power to change their condition. It is there all the time, if they will only recognize and use the power. In the song “Already Gone” by The Eagles, is a profound lyric, “So often times it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.”

What technique of the mind can we use to remember the power we have over our thoughts? It is simple. We need to deal with root issues and then train our brain to think in a different pattern.

It has been demonstrated that habitual thought patterns can be changed simply by replacing bad thoughts with good ones consistently for about a month. That is long enough to reprogram our brain to overcome a lifetime of negative attitudes and thoughts.

There is a simple process that is guaranteed to work if we will only use it consistently.

Step 1 – Catch yourself having a negative thought. This is the part where most people fail. They simply do not recognize they are having negative thoughts, so no correction is possible.

Through the power of this article, you now have the gift (if you chose to use it) of catching the negative thought next time you have one. Use that power!

Step 2 – Replace the negative thought with a positive one. Mechanically reject the negative thought and figure out a way to turn it to an advantage.

Napoleon Hill had a great technique for doing this. He posited that every bad situation contained the seed of an equivalent benefit. When something negative happened, rather than lamenting, he would fix his energy on finding the seed of the equivalent benefit. With practice, it is possible to do this most of the time.

Don’t just think the thought; feel the positive feelings that the positive thought evokes. This part of the process is what gives this step its power boost. Then act in congruence with the thought and emotion. This way of dealing with negative thoughts and behaviors will literally change your life.

Step 3 – You must praise yourself for rejecting the bad thought and replacing it with a good one. Why? Because the road to changing a lifetime of negativity is long and hard. You need encouragement along the way to recognize that you are literally reinventing your entire self through the power of your mind. One might think this is impossible objectively, but you are accomplishing it.

I read a joke that it is great to be a youth because you do not have the experience to know that it is physically impossible to do what you are doing.

Every time you praise yourself for taking the initiative to change your attitude, you make the next life-changing attitude adjustment easier to make. Thus, you can begin to form a habit of changing the way you think. Presto, a month later the world will see a new and much more positive you.

The good news is that this three-step process takes no time out of your busy day. It costs absolutely nothing to do it, yet it can literally transform the only thing in life that really counts: the quality of your life.

The amazing thing about this technique is that it can be taught to others rather easily. The idea is so simple it can be understood in a five minute discussion, yet the benefits are so powerful it they can make a huge difference in the life of the other person.

I recommend you try this method of self-improvement for a month and experience the benefits. Once you do, then help some people who are miserable to improve their lot in life by applying this process.

Developing Emotional Intelligence and changing your attitude will open the door to making positive changes in your life. You will see that you DO have the power to make changes and see life in a different way: a more powerful way. You can use that new power to start making tangible differences in your life because you will trust yourself and your ability to control your outcomes better.

Key Concepts in this article

1. You can train your brain to think differently

2. Three step process:
• Catch yourself having a negative thought,
• Turn that thought into the seed of an equivalent benefit, and let the seed blossom,
• Praise yourself for the growth.

3. You need to apply this technique consistently for 30 days for it to become a habit.

Exercises for you

1. Write down 5 ideas to improve your attitude today. Start a habit of thinking of attitude improvement ideas every morning.

2. Have a conversation with another person about changing attitudes. Resolve between the two of you to help each other along a path to greater control of this dimension.

3. Catch yourself with a poor attitude using the model outlined in this article. Start using it today, and make sure to reward yourself for the growth.

4. Teach the three step approach to other people as a way to help them improve their life.

5. Create a mutual support system around using the self-correcting model. Make it into a group exercise. Groups can benefit by this approach as much as individuals can.

 

Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of: Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, 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.  For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at www.Leadergrow.com, bwhipple@leadergrow.com or 585.392.7763

 


Betrayal of Trust

December 12, 2015

A total breach of trust can take your breath away because it violates a sacred bond between two people.

There was a connection that was solid and true, but all of a sudden something happened that appeared to violate everything the relationship was built on.

Here is an example of a trust violation from my experience.

I was Mike’s boss, and we had a relationship built on trust. Mike was a manager in my Division. We had been together a long time, and I knew him well. Mike knew that I always put a high premium on honest communication, so when I heard a rumor that he was having an inappropriate relationship with a female employee reporting to him, I could not believe it.

After all, Mike was an upstanding pillar of the community with a wife and four kids. He was also the leader of a large bible study group at his church.

Several weeks later, I was provided indisputable evidence that he actually was having an affair with the female employee reporting to him.

Since this was totally out of character for Mike, I stopped into his office one day to confront the situation. I shared that I had heard a rumor that turned out to be true, and that I was extremely disappointed.

Mike looked me straight in the eye and said it was not true: there was no affair and no relationship. He lied to my face in order to get out of a tough spot.

Obviously the lie cut me much more deeply than his sexual indiscretions did.

In this case the damage was irreparable because all trust was lost. Mike had to find another job, because I could no longer have him reporting to me.

When trust is totally violated, it is sometimes impossible to rebuild.

The first question after a trust betrayal is whether the relationship can be salvaged or not. If it can be, then take steps in that direction immediately, if not, then you must take your lumps and end the relationship.

When a trust betrayal happens, both parties usually feel awful about it. It is important to move quickly to confront the situation. Sitting on the problem will not resolve it, and it will make you feel worse.

Do not just float along pretending the problem had not occurred. That does a total disservice to the valuable relationship you had. Often there are steps that can repair broken trust.

The first question to ask is whether the relationship is salvageable. It is an important decision because sometimes the violation is so serious, there is no going back, as was the case with Mike.

When a trust violation occurs, the question to ask is “do I feel strongly enough about our relationship to find some way to patch it up or is it over.”

Here is a case where a misunderstanding nearly ended a strong relationship.

I trusted Martha completely, but then I found out she tried to steal a resource out from under me. I felt totally violated, but decided our relationship was worth saving.

I arranged to meet with her so we could get to the bottom of the problem. It took a lot of courage to confront her, but I am glad I did.

The first point I established was that we both felt rotten, and wanted to recover our former relationship of trust. Once we agreed to invest in the relationship, we were able to share the facts, apologize, and generate a plan for renewal.

Actually in this case, as often happens, there was a misunderstanding, so the repair process worked out for us. By sharing facts and discussing future intent as adults, the violation was repaired.

This case was a great example of when trust is repaired quickly after a violation. In such circumstances, the relationship can end up stronger than it was before the problem occurred. The process is to:

• open the lines of communication,
• confirm that the relationship can be saved,
• share with each other your perception of what happened,
• determine what things would need to happen for full redemption,
• make a plan,
• and follow through with the plan.

It is very much like marriage counseling.

Exercise for you: Today think about a relationship in your life that has gone sour, but that you wish could be brought back to life.

Relive the experience and pay special attention to how you felt at the time. Would you play the scene differently if you had the opportunity to do it over?

Meet with the person and find out if the feeling is mutual. If it is, then make the investment in time and energy to salvage trust. You may find it to be stronger than ever after you do.

Recognize that not every relationship can be saved. It is a matter of deep introspection, and it really depends on the nature of the violation as well as the character of the people involved.

Making a conscious effort to repair lost trust is a blessing in your life because in many cases it can restore a precious bond. That is an enriching experience.

The preceding was derived from an episode in “Building Trust,” a 30 part video series by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.” To view three short (3 minutes each) examples at no cost go to http://www.avanoo.com/first3/517


The Transactional Nature of Trust

July 11, 2015

Coins in handTo experience maximum trust with the individuals in our lives, we need to be aware of the transactional nature of trust. Everything that happens between us will have some impact on the level of trust.

It is important to build trust constantly by our words and deeds. Sometimes we will encounter a loss of trust, and we need the equity of past trust-building transactions to withstand an inevitable let down.

Here is a true story from my past that included a trust transaction.

George came into my office and closed the door. He was a manager reporting to me, and we had a relationship of high trust.

My Division had just been combined with another Division to form a larger organization. George wanted to tell me some unflattering things about one of the managers I was inheriting.

Rather than my trust in George going up, it went down that day because he was undermining a peer. I told him that I would rather not deal in gossip and wanted to give the new manager a chance to start out with a clean slate.

As we interface with people in daily activities, our level of trust goes up or down constantly depending on the transactions happening between us. This adjustment includes e-mail, phone calls, and even body language in a meeting. Any interface creates an opportunity to modify the level of trust.

Exercise for you: Seek to pay more attention to the transactions you have with other people today. Notice the small things that happen which have a positive or negative impact on trust.

Learn to read the body language of others so you can read when something you have said or done has made the level of trust go down.

Trust is never static. It is always moving depending on our assessment of the character, consistency, competence, congeniality, and care the other person is showing us. I call these elements the five C’s of trust.

Also realize the other person is making similar judgments of us. So trust is an ever-moving target. Make sure you are always doing things to build rather than destroy trust with other people.

 

The preceding was derived from an episode in “Building Trust,” a 30 part video series by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.” To view three short (3 minutes each) examples at no cost go to http://www.avanoo.com/first3/517

 


Bilateral Nature of Trust – Restoring Lost Trust

February 2, 2014

StethoscopeTrust between individuals is bilateral. At any point in time, we have a balance of trust with every person whom we know.

Trust is also directional; I trust you at some level and you trust me as well, but not at the exact same level. In all our daily transactions with others, the trust fluctuates based on what happens, what is said, body language, texts, and even what other people are saying.

It is a very complex and dynamic system.

I believe that if the trust in one direction is very different from the reciprocal trust for a long period of time, that relationship will not endure unless it is forced to endure, or unless something happens to resolve the disparity.

Picture the situation between a parent and a child who has a habit of lying to keep out of trouble. The parent has low trust in the child because there is overwhelming evidence that the child does not have integrity.

The child may trust the parent at some level even if the relationship is a stormy one. The relationship is usually forced to endure because the child is too young to strike out on his own. Unfortunately with each low trust exchange, a kind of resentment builds up that may take years to resolve, if ever.

At work, we have a trust level with each person based on everything that has happened thus far in the relationship. My trust in you will be different from your trust in me, and it will fluctuate depending on what happens to us during the day. This is normal and not particularly damaging unless the rift becomes a major issue, or the pattern is a prolonged one.

Rebuilding trust is a situational thing, and not every situation calls for the formality offered below. These steps constitute a solid path toward reconciliation for a breach of trust between two people who have previously had a strong relationship that has been severely compromised.

The idea is to move swiftly and create an atmosphere of finding 1) the truth, 2) understanding of motives, and 3) a pathway to healing.

Nine tips to rebuild lost trust

1. Act Swiftly

Major trust withdrawals can be devastating, and the trauma needs to be treated as quickly as possible. Just as a severe bodily injury requires immediate emergency care, so does the bleeding of emotional capital need to be stopped after a major letdown.

The situation is not going to heal by itself, so both parties need to set aside normal routines in order to focus significant energy on regaining equilibrium.

2. Verify care

Both people should spend some time remembering what the relationship felt like before the problem. In most cases there is a true caring for the other person, even if it is eclipsed by the hurt and anger of the moment.

It may be a stretch for some people to mentally set aside the issue, but it would be helpful to do that, if just as an exercise.

If the problem had never happened, would these people care about each other? If one person cannot recognize at least the potential for future care, then the remedial process is blocked until that happens.

3. Establish a desire to do something about it

If reparations are to be made, both people must cooperate. If there was high value in the relationship before the breach, then it should be possible to visualize a return to the same level or higher level of trust.

It may seem out of reach if the problem was a major let down or ongoing issue, but it is critical that both parties really want the hurt to be resolved.

4. Admit fault and accept responsibility

The person who made the breach needs to admit what happened to the other person. If there is total denial of what occurred, then no progress can be made.

Try to do this without trying to justify the action. Focus on what happened, even if it was an innocent gaffe.

Often there is an element of fault on the part of both parties, but even if one person is the only one who did anything wrong, an understanding of fault is needed in this step.

Sometimes neither party did anything particularly wrong, but the circumstances led to trust being lost. In addition, the problem may be an act of omission rather than something that was done.

5. Ask for forgiveness

It sounds so simple, but many people find it impossible to verbalize the request for forgiveness, yet a pardon is exactly what has to happen to enable the healing process.

The problem is that saying “I forgive you” is easy to say but might be hard to do when emotions are raw.

The loss of trust may be so severe that the injured party may not believe the person who is asking for forgiveness.

True and full forgiveness is not likely to happen until behavior has changed and the final healing process has occurred. It takes time to rebuild trust.

6. Determine the cause

This is a kind of investigative phase where it is important to know what happened in order to make progress. It is a challenge to remain calm and be as objective with the facts as possible.

Normally the main emotion is one of pain, but anger can accompany the pain. Both people need to describe what happened, because the view from one side will be significantly different from the opposite view.

Go beyond describing what happened, and discuss how you felt about what happened. Do not cut this discussion off until both parties have exhausted their descriptions of what occurred and how they felt about it.

Sometimes it helps in this stage to do some reverse role playing where each person tries to verbalize the situation from the perspective of the other.

7. Develop a positive path forward

The next step is the mutual problem solving process. Often two individuals try to do this without the preparatory work done above, which is more difficult.

The thing to ask in this phase is “what would have to happen to restore your trust in me to at least the level where it was before.” Here, some creativity can really help.

You are looking for a win-win solution where each party feels some real improvement has been made.

Do not stop looking for solutions just because they are difficult to find. If you have gotten this far, there is going to be some set of things that can begin the healing process. Develop a path forward together. Realize that it may be difficult to reach a compromise easily. One person may harbor a grudge for a long time, so keep looking for a win-win solution. What new behaviors are you both going to exhibit with each other to start fresh.

8. Agree to take action

There needs to be a formal agreement to take corrective action. Usually this agreement requires modified behaviors on the part of both people. Be as specific as possible about what you and the other person are going to do differently. The only way to verify progress is to have a clear understanding of what will be different.

9. Check back on progress

Keep verifying that the new behaviors are working and modify them, if needed, to make positive steps every day. As the progress continues, it will start getting easier, and the momentum will increase.

Make sure to smell the roses along the way. It is important to celebrate progress as it occurs, because that reinforcement will encourage continued progress. If there is a another set-back, it is time to cycle back on the steps above and not give up on the relationship just because the healing process is a long one.

This process needs to be taken with a grain of salt and modified to fit the particular situation at hand. Every rift between people is unique, and the ideas here are directional, depending on the situation, rather than literal to be followed without reason.

Modify the process to fit your particular application and do not follow a get well plan blindly. If a step seems like overkill or is just not practical, then you can skip it, but for serious breaches, the majority of steps will help.

In many cases, it is possible to restore trust to a higher level than existed before the breach. This method is highly dependent on the sincerity with which each person really does want the benefits of a high trust relationship with the other person.

Achieving higher trust than before is really good news, because it allows a significant trust withdrawal to become an opportunity instead of a disaster.


The Scar Never Really Goes Away

September 25, 2011

Most of us have had a miscommunication situation where another individual took umbrage at something we said. Let’s suppose that the problem was truly a misinterpretation of what you meant and that you were able to go to the other person and set the record straight. Now the issue is behind you both, right? Wrong!

The problem is that, for deep wounds, the scar tissue never fully heals. Sure you are able to go on, forgiven for the gaffe, but there is always going to be a degradation of trust in the mind of the other person. Nothing either of you can say or do can totally erase the issue. So how can you proceed? Does this mean that every time there is an innocent mistake, irreparable damage is done. Thankfully no!

The trick is to acknowledge the gaffe, work to heal the ill feelings as much as possible, then seek other trust building techniques to more than make up for the permanent loss due to the slip up. Actually, if you both work at it, the trust can come out higher than ever before, even though the scar is still there. It is as if the rest of the skin around the scar has become so strong and beautiful that even though there is still an imperfection, it is overridden by the surrounding area.

Think of a merger situation where one party inadvertently left some assets off a list. In the due diligence process, the error was discovered by the other party. The relationship can never be exactly the same as it was before the situation occurred, but with the proper rehabilitation, the trust can actually come out stronger than before. This situation can be more complex than I am representing here because it might be the accused person who is feeling the betrayal rather than the accuser, since the mistake was an honest oversight. It all depends on the situation and the temperament of the individuals.

The same remedial logic is operational if the betrayal was due to an actual deception rather than a misunderstanding. In these cases, the scar tissue is particularly deep, and it may be impossible to repair the damage, despite the effort. Many people at work or organizations that have merged know the pain of a complete collapse of trust. In serious cases, trust never does come back, and the individuals live with the duplicity or agree to go their separate ways.

A falling out in the work environment, whether justified or not is something that removes huge amounts of built-up trust. Good dialog and a conscious attempt to set the record straight are excellent first steps, but we need to go beyond these remedies to make the main focus of the relationship be the positive forward aspects instead of scars from the past. This means seeking out ways to generate more trust over an extended period of time.


The Synapse of Trust

December 26, 2010

Trust is the glue that holds any organization together. Trust can exist at all levels because it is fundamentally a kind of synapse between two people. In the body, the synapse enables life by transmitting electrical signals between nerve cells. A similar pattern exists within organizations, where trust facilitates quasi electrical interactions between people. Where the synapse does not happen, trust is thwarted, and fruitful interaction is blocked. This barren condition is common, and it results in people “playing games” with each other in an effort to gain political traction for their own agendas.

I visualize trust as existing in the “white spaces” between thoughts and activities. Trust enables the flow of ideas and concepts in an environment free of fear. That condition is vital to creativity in any group endeavor. One of my favorite sayings is that the absence of fear is the incubator of trust. Lack of fear is not the only condition for trust to grow, but I believe it is a necessary precursor.

The benefits of trust have been well documented by many authors and researchers. For example, Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust stresses that as trust increases costs go down and things move faster. Dennis and Michelle Reina’s book, Trust and Betrayal, shares research on the process of healing broken trust relationships. In my own books, I seek to highlight the nature of trust and how to achieve it every day.

My thesis is that the heart of building trust is making people feel safe enough to share uncomfortable thoughts without fear of retribution. This atmosphere is accomplished when leaders praise people for being honest and open, even when the message is difficult to hear. I call this technique, “reinforcing candor,” and I believe it is one important way leaders build trust.

Warren Bennis is a true master of leadership and trust. He has written numerous insightful books on the importance of trust and how to help it grow. In, On Becoming a Leader, Bennis wrote, “It became clear that the ability to inspire trust, not charisma, is what enables leaders to recruit others to a cause.” In a recent article for Leadership Excellence Magazine, Bennis recalls the lesson given by Jim Burke, CEO of Johnson & Johnson, who, in 1982, boldly recalled $100 million of Tylenol because some tainted pills had been discovered. His candor by personally going on national television to announce the recall was unprecedented, and it is at least partly responsible for saving the entire brand equity.

Candor is not always a pleasant experience because the truth is sometimes repulsive to behold. Individual differences allow one person to think a situation is perfectly acceptable while another individual may see it as intolerable. Revealing the truth about an issue leaves one vulnerable to scorn if there is a disconnect with the perceptions of another. The ability to withstand differences of perspective and still maintain respect is what makes trust so precious. The synapse of real trust is enabled by honesty and candor. In the void between souls, these quasi electrical connections allow a strong bond of mutual care and support.

Raw candor is not always the best approach, as we must apply it with judgment, tact, and care. We all know situations where it is wise to avoid blurting out our unvarnished thoughts. Within an organization, our reactions to activities or situations begin as private thoughts. They are not malicious or offensive; they are simply our beliefs. The ability to share this information with leaders in a constructive dialog is important.

If we feel stifled out of fear of retribution, then our private information will remain hidden. The withheld information is lost to the organization, and we suffer frustration and loss of morale by feeling muted. Conversely, if we know it is safe to express our thoughts in a mature and helpful way and that leaders will listen, we feel more attachment to our work, and the organization benefits from our viewpoint. It is up to the leaders to enable this flow of information through the behavior of reinforcing candor. Further, it is essential that leaders hear and understand the input and be willing to consider it seriously through dialog and actions.

We must teach leaders the power of this fundamental law: without trust, little real progress is made in any society. Candor is the enabler of trust. Leaders need to embrace and reinforce candor as much as possible. This behavior is not easy, as it is much more comfortable to become defensive or aggressive when facing a contrary opinion. The best leaders make people glad when they bring up difficult discussions because it enables the synapse of trust to flow.


When Trust is Lost

June 27, 2010

There is a whole sector of the trust technology that deals with betrayal of trust. The bottom line is that hard-earned trust is easy to lose and very hard to rebuild when the basis for it has been destroyed. If you would like to read a good book on the technology, you can read Trust and Betrayal by Dennis and Michelle Reina.

In my work, I use the concept of a trust withdrawal as a trigger point for building trust to a higher level. It takes a lot of work, but it is critical to do because trusting relationships are what drive good performance on every level. Great leaders use withdrawals in the trust account to redefine the relationship quickly if possible. Rather like a marriage, if a leader can take the right steps after an inevitable withdrawal, the relationship can emerge stronger rather than wrecked. Sometimes the stakes are too high and the personal interface time does not allow a rebuilding process to happen.

We were reminded of the conundrum when President Obama accepted the resignation of General Stanley McCrystal as the top commander in Afghanistan. I am not going into the politics of the situation and whether Obama was right or wrong to take the action. Any strong action by a president is going to draw a firestorm of rhetoric from supporters and detractors. The fundamental reason why McCrystal was asked to step down had to do more with trust than talent, capability, or even circumstances. Obama said that he had great admiration for the work of McCrystal over the years and the personal relationship they had, but the actions in giving that interview to Rolling Stone “eroded the trust that is necessary for our team to work together…” In a time when actions every hour of every day hold the fate of American lives and interests, there was just no room for anything less than a trusting relationship among the top leaders. That is why Obama instinctively went to General David Petraeus to fill the void. Trust with McCrystal will need to be rebuilt over time offline and will probably never be whole again.

Every day there are countless decisions made in corporations and families around the world where trust becomes the defining characteristic. It actually seals the fate of organizations and relationships every day. The majority of promotions and marriages are based on trust, while the majority of dismissals and divorces are rooted in lack of trust. In my three books on trust, I outline numerous aspects of trust and how to rebuild damaged relationships. Here are a few ideas that apply to your world and might have led to a different outcome in national drama we witnessed.

If a leader can extend trust when it seems irrational to do so, it is often a huge and lasting deposit in the trust account. The ability to forgive an errant subordinate who was clearly off base can strengthen rather than sever the relationship. The nature of trust is reciprocal. When we are extended trust, even if we do not at the moment deserve it, a chain reaction goes on within us to live up to that commitment far into the future.

The ability to forgive someone who has wronged you, especially in a very public and impactful way, flies in the face of conventional wisdom in most organizations. An egregious sin needs to be punished in proportion in order to maintain discipline and respect. An ancient Jew from Nazareth taught the world that forgiveness often leads to higher respect in the long run. Ultimately, greater power is derived from humility, empathy, and love than from command, discipline, and control.

The ability to reinforce candor is another significant way to build trusting relationships. When someone points to something about a situation that is happening that does not seem logical, it is easy for a leader to become defensive and clobber the messenger. Leaders who have a high batting average at reinforcing rather than punishing people who express their concerns take the higher road to building trusting relationships.

Please do not misread me here. I do not want to get into a political debate; I would lose in a heartbeat as I am not a political animal. My objective is to use the McCrystal case as illustrative of lesser decisions we all are called on to make on a daily basis. I do believe Obama made a very difficult call with consideration, maturity, and conviction. It was a defining moment in his presidency, and he passed the test of strength and courage. He also ended a long standing career of excellence and lost a friend, probably for life. History, not I, will determine the wisdom of his decision.