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The Ultimate Currency: TRUST - Fueling Success and Fulfillment in Life

Travis Pastrana skydiving without a parachute

The recipe for a successful life has many ingredients. One is irreplaceable.

Our world revolves around a lot of things. It’s a complex balancing act of some forces that we have no control over and others that we do. Business, marriage, friendship, government and the relationships that we have with each are powerful, and all have varying effects on us. But, the one thing that dictates the outcome is the level of trust we have with those relationships.

The word trust gets tossed around just like the word love and promise. Except love can come in different shapes and sizes and promises can be broken by forces out of our control. Trust is black or white. It is the grand-daddy of them all. Without it, none of those aforementioned things like business and marriage, etc. move forward like they should. Trust is the foundation.

Travis Pastrana, professional Motocross racer, rally car champion (and all around good guy) demonstrated trust in one of the most extreme ways. As shown above, he jumped from an airplane to do a skydive with (you guessed it) no parachute. He relied on two fellow skydivers to jump with him, catching up to him, getting his parachute on in mid-air, and allowing him to safely land with a smile on his face. Regardless of whether you see this as crazy, lunacy, genius or Travis being Travis, it was the ultimate test of trust.

Can Selfishness be in the same room as Trust?

With the continued growth of large corporations over the past few decades, we have seen an ‘Us vs. Them’ culture grow between employers and employees. On the whole, most people want the same outcome in their careers. They want to feel appreciated, feel safe and feel supported to do their job well and progress their lives. Like any team sport, it takes everyone doing their job in sync to make it all work. Selfishness has no place on a team. Selfishness has no place in trust.

The ‘Us vs. Them’ vibe often gets reinforced using the following old war analogy. When going into battle, atop of the hill, the General yells ‘charge.’ A true leader charges down the hill with their troops while the opposite sits above and watches their troops fight the battle. Which one would you trust? In the corporate world, the message is to ‘show and tell, but mostly show!’

We see how important this message and behavior is, not only in business, but in life or death teamwork – the military. Famed optimist and speaker, Simon Sinek, has committed his life and career to studying the power of trust among teams. Simon spent time with Navy SEALs to learn how they build teams and determine what they consider to be the most important aspects of their teammates. After all, their teammates don’t just dictate their career or money, but whether or not they live or die.

It was clear that Navy SEALs placed absolute priority not on who was the smartest, most skilled or savvy, or even the best performer. They placed their focus on who they could trust. Period. You may have trustworthy skills, but if not trusted as a person, move on, you are not welcome.

High Performers vs. Highly Trustworthy

The graph below explains a lot. Everyone wants the person in the top right corner, high performance-high trust. The person in the top left corner, high performance-low trust, is who nobody wants on their team. Unless, of course, you also can be described as that top-left person. This person is known as a toxic team member. In Simon’s words, ‘if the SEAL’s, who are some of the highest-performing teams in the world, prioritize trust before performance, then why do many still think performance matters first in business?’ Eventually the toxicity catches up. It’s not pretty. It’s a disease.

Graph Showing what is more important - Trust or Performance?

Source: The Infinite Game-Simon Sinek

Earning and Losing Trust - One Action at a Time

The financial advisory field has always been one of great scrutiny over the past 20+ years. It was once said that before 2008 (Great Financial Crisis), a professional man or woman in a suit discussing finances was one of the most trusted people in society. Post 2008, they are one of the least.

2008 broke trust. Some that were previously trusted were unmasked. Some who warned about these now ‘unmasked’ are still using trust and honesty to get the people they advise on a better track. It’s not easy, as there are still more generals sitting atop of the hill than ones storming into battle with their troops. But, we push on. Remember, if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.

A lot of what it comes down to, for advisers, is the difference between a Fiduciary Standard and a Suitability standard. This topic, which we will take a deeper dive into soon, is one not of debate but of trust. If you were told by your adviser—who handles your life’s earnings, helps you plan your future, looks after the financial future of your kids, works alongside your CPA to manage your taxes efficiently, etc. (the list goes on)—that their obligation lies with doing what is suitable, not what is in your best interest, how would you feel? What if that same advisor instead told you that they must follow a fiduciary standard, in which they are obligated to do what is in YOUR best interest, period. Who do you want in your corner? Which adviser likely loses some sleep from time to time thinking of you? Which one sleeps just fine? You see what I am getting at… who do you trust? Quite simply, who do you trust to pack your parachute?

Trust is, and will forever be at the core of great things. A great man once said ‘when there is trust in the room, great things happen. When there isn’t, they don’t.’ It is at the core of great marriages, friendships, families, neighborhoods, business, corporations and even international relations. Everyone loves smart people. But, if you can’t be trusted, your smarts will only go so far.

Honest mistakes happen. Communication breaks down. But, at the end of the day, trust makes us own it, repair the blemish and move forward. An unintentional crack in the foundation isn’t a break in trust. A break in trust is more like a grenade tossed in the room.

Trust is earned, one action at a time.


The Infinite Game –Simon Sinek

The Language of Trust – Michael Maslansky with Scott West, Gary DeMoss, and David Saylor


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