Trust headI’ve been thinking a lot about trust. It’s a powerful word that, ever since its first known use in the thirteen century, has always stemmed from a sense of absolute reliance and dependability associated with integrity, virtue, and faith. From Middle English, probably of Scandinavian origin; our modern-day “trust” is akin to Old Norse traust, meaning confidence, protection, and support. And from Old English trēowe, meaning faithful, Dutch troost, meaning comfort and consolation; from Old High German trost, meaning trust and fidelity; and finally from Gothic trausti, meaning agreement or alliance.

I like the word trust and the feelings it conveys — that I can rely on others, and feel good knowing that they can always count on me. I like trusting that the sun will rise every morning and set in the evenings. That my breath will come, and my heart will beat without my having to convince it to do so. So many aspects of life that I trust; in fact, must trust. None of which I have control over, except myself.

During the twelve years I worked in the human resources department for a global organization, I learned a lot about trust from hiring practices. For instance, I learned that the best way to predict future performance is to understand past performance. No matter how a potential employee attempted to explain past failures, the fact remained — they were who they were, and that was based on what they had done and how the had done it.

“But people can change,” I recall suggesting to an interview team after an excellent interview with a lovely lady whose work history was sketchy (to put it kindly). An HR Vice President took me aside to school me on past “exceptions” to the rule. It wasn’t pretty. In most cases, it was a very expensive proposition for the company, and the employee never lasted long.

Just. Not. Worth. It.

Lesson learned? Past performance is an indicator of future performance. Yes, people can change; but that change is evolutionary.

Which takes me back to how good it feels to trust. The sun has been rising and setting for all of my life. Yes, I have great faith that it will continue to do so. I am fortunate that my breath has come, and my heart has beat regularly ever since my birth. I trust myself because it has always been important to me to honor my word, and to do my best work for as long as I can remember. This is a part of who I am, and I have absolute confidence that I will continue to operate in that fashion.

What can I say of others with whom I interact? How does trust factor in?

Let’s just say that I’ve come to have a lot of “trust” in the past performance mantra. I look for patterns of behavior and let that dictate the trustworthiness of a person. And because I have learned that “niceness” can be skin deep, I trust my gut.

What I don’t do is worry about trustworthiness. I don’t fret over whether I can trust someone or not. I don’t allow the “not knowing for certain” to suck away my energy or prevent me from having a good night’s sleep. I simply allow things to be as they are — either in a state of trust (which feels awesome) or in a state of trusting that the evolution of “earning trust” is in progress and the results remain to be seen.

Either way, I feel good.

What does trust mean to you? How do you come to trust something or someone?

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