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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Trust, trust! Where are you?

Anthony Pellegrino

“Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.”—Albert Einstein

“I don’t trust him!” “He can’t be trusted!” “I cannot trust you, I don’t want to work with you [marry you] [deal with you].” “You have betrayed my trust!”

How often does the word trust play in your daily life? Isn’t it the most important criteria for establishing relationships with everyone we come in contact with—our spouses, our children, our friends, our bosses, our government? Can we live a healthy and normal social life without trust? Can a community be safe and prosperous without trust among its citizens? What does trust really mean?

Today our beautiful community is beset with a sickness. We are sick from the loss of trust among ourselves. Trust has been broken so many times by our administration and some members of the Legislature that we go around looking for anyone we can trust. We have gotten to the point that we have become so mistrustful of our governor that we are about to impeach him. This act has caused so much distrust among our community. One of our senators is in jail, accused of one or two misdemeanors. How many other acts of mistrust do we deal with daily? We are confused. Who can we trust? As a result our community has become splintered.

But why am I discussing the act of trust at this time? I feel it is mistrust that is plaguing our community more than lack of prosperity. When we trust we feel secure and comfortable.

Trust is a function of several things: character, assured reliance on that character, ability, and strength of truthfulness of someone or something. Character includes our integrity, our motives, and our intent with people. Competence includes our capabilities, our skills, our results, and our track record. All are vital if we are to trust and be trusted.

The word “trust” is the most frequently used measure of evaluation in our relationship with others. When we trust we feel secure. When we mistrust we feel insecure and troubled. The opposite of trust is betrayal, perhaps one of the most abominable sins against another person. Recall the famous scene in Shakespeare’s play Julius Ceasar, when his most trusted friend Brutus also stabs him. Julius turns to him and says: “And you too, Brutus! Thus I die.”

We are in the process of impeaching our governor who is in his second term. This situation has pitted friend again friend. We question each other’s motives. To impeach or not to impeach—that is the question. Our newly elected members of the Legislature must decide this monumental issue. What will they decide? Thus we have become polarized from our government so that we question: Can we trust them?

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey discusses five waves of trust. The first wave is self-trust. To build trust with others we must first start with ourselves. It’s all about credibility. It’s about developing the integrity, intent, capabilities and results that make us believable, both to ourselves and to others. Do I trust myself? Am I someone I can trust? Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “Self-trust is the first secret of success…the essence of heroism.”

The second wave is relationship trust. It involves behavior—consistent behavior. It is about learning how to interact with others in ways that increases trust and avoids interacting in ways that destroy it. Quoting from Mr. Covey’s book: “Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts. Don’t spin the truth. Don’t leave false impressions.”

The third wave is about creating organizational trust. Peter Drucker tells us that organizations are no longer built on force but on trust. This concept of trust or the lack of it can be viewed daily as we watch our government in action. How many of our elected officials trust each other? How many government agencies trust each other? Many of them play the game of protecting their turf rather than trying to work with trust amongst each other.

The fourth wave of trust is market trust. This is defined as the principle of reputation. Oprah Winfrey once said: “In the end all you have is your reputation.” Consider why we buy certain brands regardless of price. Market trust is all about brand reputation. Robert Eckert, CEO of Mattel, tells us: “Trust is the key building block in the creation of a company’s reputation, and as a result its shareholders value.” Let me add that it is also a country’s reputation and as a direct result its citizens’ value.

Tourists come to Saipan because of our “brand name,” and investors invest in the CNMI because of the trust they feel about us. When that trust is smeared or lost, what do we have to offer tourists and investors? I hate to admit it, but I feel that over the past years we have not built too good of a “market trust.” Think why we have been losing so many tourists and have so few true investors while Guam is booming in both these two areas.

The fifth wave is societal trust. This is the trust we give to our society and to our fellow community members. The overriding principal of societal trust is contribution. It is an attempt to give back instead of taking. If we only take, society will break down. How much societal trust are we giving to our community? The giver creates value instead of destroying it.

I do not mean to be preachy, but I have chosen to discuss the value of trust today because I feel we have lost so much of both within ourselves and especially with our leaders. Meanwhile the outside world looks at us and snickers. We have made several serious mistakes at great cost to our community. We must rise to the occasion and once again begin to trust both ourselves and our leaders.

How much trust is extended through a handshake today? Why must legal documents always be the deciding points? Without trust we will never succeed.

Hopefully we will finish the job of removing one of the main causes of our loss of trust. Hopefully our legislators will read this and prove to us that they can be trusted. After all, didn’t we believe and trust their words during the election campaign? Let us trust that they did not merely dally with our trust, only to betray it after Election Day.

In closing I quote again from the Speed of Trust by Stephan M.R. Cover when he states: “Through my work, community service, and personal and family life over the past 20 years, I have seen enough to convince me that on every level—societal, market, organizational, relationship, and personal—people often have the ability to restore at least some measure of trust when they have lost it…if they’re really serious about it. If they’re not serious—or if they repeatedly abuse it after restoring it—the opportunity will likely be forfeited.”

Let us part with these words: “I trust and believe in you!”

And don’t forget to smile! It will make you and the other person feel good. So smile! Have a great week!

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