It is unfortunate that it has become true that we can no longer trust the community at face value. It is also true that we should not solely trust our own knowledge and judgement.
The Good. The Bad. And The Ugly.
In previous years your word was as good as your bond, and life-changing contracts were sealed merely by the shaking of hands. A professional sign over the door stating 'solicitor', 'accountant', 'fireman', 'teacher', 'policeman', 'doctor', or 'nurse' brought a feeling of trust. Today, unfortunately, we need to consider whether people fall into the good, the bad, or the ugly.
These are people who are known by you to be trusted; who have your best interests at heart and have the skills, knowledge and wisdom to assist you.
These are those who are self-focused at our expense and are pretty easy to spot.
But the real danger is the bad – people who we know as a trusted person, who have our best interests at heart, but who turn out to be someone who lacks the necessary skills and wisdom to assist us.
For example, a client of mine, who had lost his wife to cancer before he came to me for help, took the advice of a friend while still in bereavement. His friend advised him to take out a loan against his home and promised he would invest the money for my client to increase his income while he was going through the grief of losing his wife. As it turned out the friend in fact had no wisdom about investing and lost all the money.
In light of this, it is apparent that we often still allow relationships to grow too quickly, trusting the person too easily. As has been said about dating or a job interview, a first meeting is almost always a perception created by the parties concerned to highlight their strengths and cover their weaknesses. Reality follows later and often it fails to meet the expectations created by the initial perception.
On the other hand, creating and maintaining quality relationships can be like trying to hold onto slippery soap. I have seen people end an otherwise promising relationship based on a single action by the other person, or on a small aspect of their personality. Then they move onto another new and exciting relationship where their initial perception soon fails as well. Once met by reality, when another incident or action happens they simply move on again. While a new relationship may seem different to start with; that is only because it has not yet reached the same stage where the previous relationship fell apart. More often than not, the new relationship will break down for exactly the same reason and at the same place as the previous one.
This is true for both personal and business relationships. Certainly some relationships are not good for us and should be left behind. However, many times people leave potentially great relationships.
We need to learn to move through trouble in relationships, not simply move away.
My No 1 suggestion!
You may know from my story that the first two decades of my adult life were driven by my own decisions and the knowledge of those around me, many of whom it turned out to be bad or ugly as defined above. I would gather that knowledge, make a decision and take action. But as Google CEO Eric Schmidt says, 'The one thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them.' During the last two decades I have learnt the missing ingredient. While our own decisions – based on knowledge we gather – may achieve many individual successes, there is a key to accelerated growth and maintained success.
Head, Heart and Helicopter.
Having transparency in trusted third party relationships for all areas of our life is the key. To allow this to happen takes courage and confidence. Many people are OK to have others point out things they should be considering regarding their decisions, however most are not OK to have people speak into their habits and behaviours. This transparent third party relationship is not an authority telling you what to do. They are a listening ear, considering your decisions with perspective and making suggestions to consider.
As one of my daughter says, she 'makes decisions with head, heart and helicopter'.
Our decisions are generally made on what we see logically in our head, or emotional in our heart. Having a transparent relationship is like having someone in a helicopter seeing what opportunity or dangers may be the consequences of the decisions we make. I emphasise that this is not 'being told what to do'. It is simply being willing to take further input before making our own decisions.
I suggest change as additions and subtractions over time. One step is to have people speak into your decisions. However, the major and often more difficult step is to allow trusted people to speak into our behaviour.
One client, who has a great heart for people and wanted to see them reach their full potential had fallen into the habit of criticising some family members personally, instead of addressing the consequences of their poor decisions. He had given permission to a third party to speak into his behaviour and not just his decisions and when his friend/mentor pointed this out, the client immediately apologised to the family and adjusted his behaviour.
May I suggest you do a self-assessment of your willingness to seek out these trusted third party relationships.
It takes great care to choose who to be transparent with, and then great courage to continue in that transparency.