Today’s Trust Enables The Future

May 24, 2011

The title of this post is a line from one of my favorite books on leadership, “Leadership is an Art,” by Max DePree. DePree goes on to say:

We also enable the future by forgiving the mistakes we all make while growing up. We free each other to perform in the future through the medium of trust. (p. 114-115).

I must confess that I have a hard time forgiving people I don’t trust. But I find it impossible to trust someone I refuse to forgive. Unforgiveness disables the future by shackling us to the past. Forgiveness is a discipline of liberty, learning, and purposeful growth.

Trust does not require that we forget the performance failures or wrongs done to us by others. Trust simply requires that we factor an individual’s predictable behavior into our future expectations of that person. All of us have the capacity to be predictably untrustworthy at something.

For example, if someone you work with has a history of being deceitful, it would be foolish to pretend this person will never be deceitful again. It’s the resentment of, rather than the knowledge of, the individual’s mala fide behavior that is the real threat to your future development.

Today’s forgiveness enables the trust required for you and your team to create its future. Forgiveness is an inherently prudent professional virtue.

Related Posts:

Learning To Forgive

Real Leaders Love Their Enemies

Seven Ways To Leverage Leader Love

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  1. Jim Taggart says:

    I always found it amazing how managers who manipulate, lie to or deceive their staff appear surprised when they discover that no one trusts or believes them. It takes time, as you well know Bret, to build the confidence and trust of your followers. It takes but one incident to destroy that trust. The only way to restore that trust is to quickly own your behavior and admit your mistakes with no excuses. You’re then in the hands of your followers who will determine the outcome.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Very well said, Jim! Leaders would do well to heed your advice. Thanks! Bret

  2. Jesse says:

    After reading this series on trust, I realized that was the major reason I left my last company. They lied to me, which caused me to distrust anything they said. I had seen them lie and cheat others but hoped it wouldn’t happen to me. Well it did.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I hear you, Jesse, believe me I do. Your point is so important – if we see folks cheating others, there is no reason we should not expect them to try it on us eventually. Thanks for sharing. Bret

  3. Zach says:

    Trust is such an important thing and if you don’t have it in the workplace morale and motivation seems to be very low. It reminds me of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people by Stephen R. Covey and the habit of Put First Things First. Trust is one that should be put at the top. As a college student entering this new generation of work I know that you need trust. If you haven’t read this book, check it out.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Zach. Great points. I would advise everyone, including college students new to the job market, to focus on being more trustworthy. It matters. Thanks! Bret