How To Trust Yourself & Others

One of the most important aspects of performing, teaching, learning, and life is collaboration. How we come together as humans is at the core of everything we do in our art, and in our lives.

These collaborative relationships can be tricky as well as miraculous, and in order to participate, we must trust- ouselves, and others.

The following points are excerpted from and interview with Joel Peterson about how to build trust, move on from betrayal, and update your operating system. (I have edited it for brevity and clarity.)

On Building Trust

“I’ve actually found that the fundamental principles of building high trust with people and metering out trust and measuring results and having accountability and whatever are the same. Human beings are human beings whether they are little people in your family or an Executive Vice President. And it’s surprising how many things are shared in common.”

People do what is measured. 

They pay attention to what is celebrated. 

Pounding people works in the short run and backfires in the long run.”

On Betrayal

“Betrayal can actually–well, it can do a number of things. But, one thing it can do is make you just wary. And make you just do less things and trust fewer people, and whatever. I think that’s the wrong response. 

Any time that you trust, in that way, you are exposed to betrayal. So, how can you be smart about who you trust and how you trust? And, how do you build an organization that gets really good at making a bunch of smart bets, along the lines of trust?

That’s why I talk about smart trust: just get smarter about trust. What you find in a lot of the religious texts, all over, are the power of forgiveness. And, the idea of moving on, and just consciously saying, ‘I’m going to move on.’ 

My own advice is: Most times the best thing to do is just get away from the party. Don’t try to repair. Give, and move on. 

Sometimes the stakes are really high. For example, I always think of the case with children. Sometimes the stakes may be so high with children that you say, ‘We’re going to do everything we can to overcome this betrayal.’

In most business circumstances, there’s information in the betrayal that you should pay attention to, and just move on. You just forgive and move on, and, you know, you’ll live a bigger and better life that way. And I realize that’s a hard thing emotionally, but I think it is the smart thing to do.”


The Madison, a relay race event in track cycling

Update Your Operating System

“I learned early in my career to develop mantras: things that I would tell myself where I knew I had a problem. I developed three that changed my life, where I just said: You know what? I’ve got to correct this in my own, what I call my operating system. My natural way of approaching, analyzing problems, and making decisions. And so I would repeat these things to me, sometimes several times a day.  And they, actually over time, I corrected: the input would come in, and my response actually changed. My emotional response actually changed based on self-talk. So, in some ways, what I feel like I was able to do was develop my own operating system. 

‘It’s not about me. It’s about the mission.’

‘I’m not my emotions.’ And that was to separate the stimulus-response.

‘I have all I need’. I found that my levels of anger, anxiety, and ego-centricity went way, way down.

So, I’d say, at a young age, figure out where your vulnerabilities are and develop the mantras that are going to allow you to rewrite your operating system. And then you’ll have the feeling–it will well up. And you will say, ‘I don’t have to react to that feeling, because I know a better way.’ And you then own the better way.”

Trust Your Team

So, we all know people who we know are extraordinarily intelligent, competent; they can do everything; but they can’t manage a team. They can’t get team results. And my analogy that I use in the book is that a relay team can run the 400 faster than the fastest 400-runner. And so, you’ve got to understand the power of team. And you have to then let go. You have to pass the baton. And just rely on the other party. And over time, you are going to do better doing that than you will by holding on to everything. 

You are going to be more innovative, more flexible; your decisions are going to be more durable, people are going to be happier, if you are ceding trust and holding people accountable, and doing it in this kind of metered way. 

Be Teachable

“I think humility is really important. I view humility as sort of teachableness: You are willing to absorb knowledge from all kinds of places. One of the best ways you show respect to others is to listen, and to listen without agenda.”

Have A Coach

I think, today, having a coach is almost de rigueur. If you are going to be a CEO, you should have a coach. And so, you can rent a coach. Or you can have somebody that you know personally. 

To have a mentor, I think is a gift. I mean, I will tell my students, ‘If you can get a job where you feel like you have a real mentor, go work for free.’ It is–you are being paid… It’s incredibly rare and incredibly valuable. But, you can’t ask somebody to be your mentor. The mentor marketplace does not work that way. But, I’ve also found that you can borrow mentors that are historical figures. To me, one of the most powerful ones is Winston Churchill. 

Relationships Are Serial, Not Episodic

“I regard negotiations as serial, not episodic. And so, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to have a lot of relationships with this guy over the years, and I want to start to build a high-trust relationship, where we’ll adjust things.’

Do small things really well. And fix them immediately.”

Have Enlightened Self-Interest

“There are frameworks and ways to think about ethics, and there are cases where people have ethical dilemmas, and you understand the tradeoff. There’s a difference between raw self-interest–you know, just short term–and enlightened self-interest. 

Enlightened self-interest is an all-things-considered look at things: You have a brand, you have a relationship.”

Source: EconTalk

July 7, 2018