4. Select Trust Principles

Trust principles help guide us past the barriers to reaching out toward our own best visions of what could be. They won't tell you exactly what to do, or how to do it, but they are the foundation for acting in a congruent way -- a way that is really you -- and this is what leads to breakthrough. Trust principles, when harnessed to your targets, expectations, and vision of positive possibilities help give you personal power -- power needed to take initiative, overcoming hurdles of fear or cynicism, to reach further and higher. As soon as you begin to apply this power, operating in a new way by acting oppositely to the way you might have acted in the past, the brain begins its important work of rewiring fresh intelligence. As you begin acting in spite of fear or other de-energizing thoughts, others may also start perceiving you as more courageous, but what that courage is likely to feel like on the inside isn't necessarily perfectly cool or together. It's more apt to be experienced as just "doing the right thing" or "what's needed" in line with your principles and in the face of some awkwardness, anxiety, faithlessness, or calculated risk. The more you act oppositely to what negative emotions would have you do -- fight, flee or shut down -- the more capable and influential you become.

Acting from trust principles can also have an enormous impact on the tone of voice used with other people, in turn coloring how your intentions are viewed and your presence is felt. This is precisely because tone triggers the brain in major ways. That's worth thinking about. The "how you reach out" is absolutely as important as the"what" you are attempting to accomplish. When you access positive trust-building principles, you are likely to come across more positively, truthfully, more inclusively and with better understanding, less likely to impose your own ways on the ways of others.

In the context of reaching out, trust principles reflect a deeply positive view of humanity -- of both yourself and of others. Such principles implicitly acknowledge the fact we are all unfinished, and that we all have more to learn about ourselves and about others. They foster openness and avoid any qualities that support blame, exclusion or superiority. Because trust is often related to such universal qualities as cooperation, freedom, honesty, respect, responsibility, and unity*, trust reaches into the deepest stratum of the human spirit -- to the very places where your own wisdom and "best self" lie.

In this 9-step process, I share five trust principles that I have found personally useful as a product of my trust-building consulting work over the course of my career -- over twenty years -- working in a wide variety of corporate, governmental, and other not-for-profit environments. In addition, of course, I also draw on my own life experiences as an individual and as a part of many relationships -- with friends, family, and other groups inside and out of formal organizations. I make no assumption that the principles I share will be right or perfect for you, and if they are not, I strongly encourage you to take the time to articulate your own. (In fact, once you see the entire process and have used it a couple of times, I encourage you to step back to reflectively create other principles that reflect your own experiences and perspectives on building trust. For now, you can use the principles I offer here as a way to complete an initial trust-building sequence -- one ultimately that can be no more and no less than your own work in progress.

The most important point is this one: that actively working to live trust principles facilitates overcoming the barriers that separate us from one another -- the very barriers described at Step 3 -- and lifts us toward a higher view of what can be. Ultimately, using the principles -- because they affect your decisions in the face of what you cannot control in any absolute way -- is likely to help you touch the core of who you are, what some might call a personal "path" or "destiny," if you will, where such terms are defined simply as the combination of choice and fate that makes your life uniquely human.

For now, your task is simply to read about all the principles listed here one at a time (in any order), evaluate them against your own beliefs about trust, and then decide whether you want to create some of your own. You will find that the principles quietly overlap one another. They are like different doors to the same house. When you are finished doing so, go on to Step 5 where you'll be asked which one of these principles (one of the ones I've listed or one of your own) is a primary principle, as it is expressed here, that you want to live by and apply in reaching out to ____________ because it is likely to help you overcome the barrier you've identified. If it feels more comfortable to you, check out Step 5 and then come back to study the principles once you see how they will be used.

Here are the principles, each with its own website page. Click on the links to read about each one.

1. Draw on inner strength

2. Step away from personal gains and losses

3. Focus on both the good and the true

4. Connect through appreciation and ownership

5. Engage to stay engaged


* Although there are many such lists, these particular values were taken from Living Values: A Guidebook by Gayatri Naraine.