Leap Year Lesson #286: Trust Breeds Trust

Posted: October 13, 2012 in Trust

Callie, my Lab/Border Collie mix

It is amazing how many life lessons come from my relationship with my dog.

While walking Callie at a nearby park today, two unusual circumstances converged to present a rare opportunity.  First, we found an abandoned tennis ball outside the tennis courts – always a giant thrill for Callie because she knows what’s coming next.  Second, the park was sparsely attended with no teams using any of the fields and not too many other walkers and dogs.  Put those two together and I have the chance to take her off her leash for a while.

If Callie was inclined to run away when I took her off her leash, I would not be able to trust her in a public place like that.  However, I know that when I throw a ball or Frisbee, she will always come running back to me so that I can throw it again.  She knows the meaning of “come”, “stay” and “give” among other words and is good at obeying them.

The bottom line is that I can trust her in that situation.  I would not risk it if the park was busy with far more people, dogs and distractions.  But in this situation, she has proven trustworthy before, so she has earned the right to be trusted again and to a greater extent unless proven untrustworthy.

When I compare this simple experience with corporate America, I find it unfortunate that sometimes companies trust their employees less than we trust our dogs.  On the one hand, we claim to hire quality people, but then we turn around and lock down PCs and block social media and other sites from web access or perform other actions in the name of security, but in actuality because we don’t trust our people to know or do the right thing.  That’s sad.

More companies need to operate from the principle of trusting others – especially their own people – unless and until individuals prove untrustworthy, at which point restrictions can be put in place for those deemed untrustworthy.  We shouldn’t start from an assumption of no trustworthiness.  It’s demeaning and unnecessary.

Leap year lesson #286 is Trust breeds trust.

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