trust.jpgI’ve been listening in the car to a CD of Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, “The Speed of Trust.”

Its essence is that things work more smoothly in a high-trust environment. Low trust adds tremendous time and cost, and also can take an emotional toll. The book breaks down trust into its elements and deals with how to build it. (Following is an excellent summary of the book by an top 1,000 reviewer.)

I read the book when it first came out a couple of years ago. But I’m getting a lot from listening to the CD. I find it helps me to take in information from the different formats, visual and then aural. As the information sinks in from the first reading of the book, thinking about it, working with it a bit, and then revisiting it helps what I want to learn sink in further. It is not what we know that is important, so much as it is our ability to DO with what we know. “To know and not do is to not know.”

What is hitting home with me right now is the concept of self trust. Do we keep the promises and commitments we make to ourselves? Or when we say to ourselves, “I’m going to exercise at least twice a week,” does a little voice in the back of our minds say “Yeah, sure!”? And is it that little voice that ends up being right?

Truth is, we cannot truly be trustworthy (worthy of trust) to others until we trust ourselves.

I was at a restaurant the other day that I knew served HUGE, over-sized (delicious) portions. In keeping with my self commitment to be a “mindful” eater, to not eat on automatic, to stop when I had enough, I asked the server to box half my order and give it to me when I left. I was given the boxed portion with my meal and there it sat, in full sight. I finished my (still generous) half helping and I started to stare at that box. I knew the food inside was still hot and juicy, tasty and inviting. My stomach, a few minutes behind knowing it was full, urged me to partake. My mind told me you KNOW if you eat it all, 30 minutes later you will feel bloated and stuffed!

The final burst of motivation came from remembering that morning’s “Speed of Trust” excerpt on self trust. I’d made a commitment to myself, I was going to keep it. Temptation banished, I tossed the extra calories in the back seat of the car and went on to a joyous day.


Here is an excellent outline of the key points of “Speed of Trust” that I found on the website. Remember that nothing substitutes for the in-depth learning the occurs from taking the time and energy to read a book in its entirety, in letting its concepts sink in.

The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything
By Sahra Badou

There is one thing that is common to every individual, organization, nation, and civilization throughout the world–one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most successful business, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, and the deepest love. On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. According to the author, that one thing is trust.

The author says that “The Five Waves of Trust” define the way we establish trust and make it actionable. Understanding these waves will enable you to speak and behave in ways that establish trust, allowing you to become a leader who gets results by inspiring trust in others.

First Wave: Self Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is credibility.

Second Wave: Relationship Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is consistent behavior.

Third Wave: Organizational Trust. The key principle underlying this wave, alignment, helps leaders create organizational trust.

Fourth Wave: Market Trust. The underlying principle behind this wave is reputation.

Fifth Wave: Societal Trust. The principle underlying this wave is contribution.

Here is a list of useful concepts I liked in the book:

Trust is the “hidden variable” in the formula for organizational success. The traditional business formula is: (Strategy x Execution = Results). But there is a hidden variable: (Strategy x Execution) x Trust = Results.

Trust always affects two outcomes: speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed goes down and cost goes up. Consider the time and cost of airport security after 9/11, or costs for Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance in response to Enron, WorldCom and other corporate scandals. When trust goes up, speed goes up and cost goes down. Warren Buffett completed the acquisition of McLane Distribution from Wal-Mart on the basis of a two-hour meeting. Because of high trust between the parties, the merger took less than a month.

In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very precise, and they’ll still misinterpret you.

If we can’t trust ourselves, we’ll have a hard time trusting others.

Who do you trust? Why do you trust this person? Now consider an even more provocative question: Who trusts you?

To use the metaphor of the tree, integrity is the root. Even though it’s underground and not even visible most of the time, it is absolutely vital to the nourishment, strength, stability and growth of the entire tree. We’ve all seen people with enormous capability, strong results, and good intent who go about what they’re doing in a dishonest way. On the other hand, to have integrity only is to be a “nice guy,” or a thoroughly honest person, who is basically useless. To most people, integrity means honesty–telling the truth and leaving the right impression.

Results matter to your credibility. They give you clout. Returning once again to the metaphor of the tree, results are the fruits–the tangible, measurable, end purpose and product of the roots, trunk and branches.

Sometimes, poor behavior turns out to be bad execution of good intent.

Communicate clearly so that you cannot be misunderstood. Declare your intent, so you leave no doubt about what you are thinking. Be honest and call things what they are. Don’t manipulate people, distort facts, or leave false impressions.

Be real and genuine and tell the truth in a way that people can verify.

Make restitution instead of just apologizing. The opposite is to deny or justify wrongs because of ego and pride, and to cover up mistakes. Apologize quickly, take action to make restitution when possible, and demonstrate personal humility to achieve this behavior.

Give credit to others and speak about people as though they are present. Don’t badmouth people behind their backs and don’t disclose others’ private information.

By establishing a track record, making the right things happen, being on time and on budget, and not making excuses for not delivering, you quickly restore lost trust on the competence side.

Continuously improve by learning, growing and renewing yourself. Others will develop confidence in your ability to succeed. The opposite is the eternal student–always learning, but never producing. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but learn from them.

Take the tough issues head-on. It is far better to address the real issues and lead courageously in discussions of uncomfortable topics.

Do both: hold yourself and others accountable.

Genuinely understand another person’s thoughts and feelings, before trying to diagnose or advice. The opposite is to speak first and listen last, or not at all, and to pretend to listen while waiting for your own chance to speak. Use your eyes and your gut to listen as well as your ears, and don’t presume you know what matters to others.

Keep all commitments the symbol of your honor.

Extending trust leverages it to create reciprocity. Do not extend false trust by giving people responsibility, but no authority or resources to complete a task. Extend conditionally to those who are earning your trust, but extend it abundantly to those who have earned it.

Doing good is no longer an addition to business; it is part of business itself.

Inspire trust by starting with yourself and your own credibility, and then consistently behave in trust building ways with other people.

Restoring trust within an organization may seem difficult; however, the fact that high-trust organizations outperform low-trust organizations by three times provides a strong incentive to make the effort.