The Absolute Necessity of Trust and Faith

I have mentioned three important values many times in my posts. What are they?

Trust. Respect. Love. All three of them are essentials if you want to influence people. Today we are going to focus on trust, and trustworthiness. Trust is defined as the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. When you are placing your trust in someone, you are placing a little bit of yourself into them. It’s an investment. There’s some risk involved. You are being vulnerable. But when it pays off, the payoff has a synchronistic effect. The sum is greater than its parts. The relationship is strengthened mightily. You now deem that individual as trustworthy, or able to be relied on as honest, truthful, reliable, dependable.

It is important to have faith in the people you are working with. If you are responsible for the development of your constituents, then at some point in time, you are going to have to release them. You give them responsibilities, you let them go to do their work, and you trust them to get it done. (Of course, this assumes they have been properly trained to do those responsibilities.) Once you let them go, keep your hands off. Otherwise, you are betraying your trust. If by chance they fail, unless it is a moral failure, don’t sweep your trust under a rug. Provide the constructive criticism they need in a respectful and kind way. Help them fail forward. Evaluate where they went wrong. Help them discover their strengths so they can develop them properly and put those strengths to work. Help them leverage their weaknesses. And let them try again. Do all of this feedback in a corroborative way. Ask questions and listen. Get their take on what happened. Guide them to the best solutions and course of actions after they have learned from their mistakes.

At the outset of a working relationship, instill confidence in your people. Help them envision their future optimistically. And help them develop a growth mindset, a mindset that says, “I can do this. I can adapt. I can hustle and work hard until this is accomplished.” Also, help them see their past wins, and work on some smaller wins together.

In the religious arena, specifically Christianity, there is an acronym used to explain faith…

Forsaking
All
I
Trust
Him

….the idea that you repent and turn away from everything you used to depend on for salvation, and entirely trust in Jesus for that salvation. Not intending this to be a Sunday school lesson, I think this is a beautiful picture of how it works in the realm of influence, too. You have to let go of controlling your people, let go of trying to micro-manage them, let go of trying to force their work into your preconceived notions of how things must be done, and trust them for the results. You do that when you get on a plane –  you let the pilot fly it, and navigate it, and all those other elements of what’s involved in getting from here to there at 25,000 feet in the air. You do it when you elect to have surgery – you let the surgeon cut you up in unforeseen ways and then patch you up and let you walk out of the hospital in the same day, (quite miraculous these days, if you ask me.) So, let you your people go to do awesome, miraculous things. And when they succeed, they will return the trust to you. And when this happens consistently, you will be building influence in your people.

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The Catalyst and Influencer

I mentioned in an earlier post that you can’t change people, unless you apply coercion, which rarely works, and when it does, it does not last. Or, you can influence others within the context of trust, respect and love. Today’s post is about that second option – Influence.

John Maxwell’s definition of leadership is influence, nothing more, and nothing less. I agree that this is the essence of leadership, there are other elements involved. But without influence, you aren’t leading. He who thinks he is leading without anyone following is merely taking a walk. We all influence people at different times during our lives. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Therefore, a corollary would say that we are all leaders as well.

I would recommend any of John Maxwell’s books for a simple no nonsense treatise on leadership and people skills. One of those books is Becoming a Person of Influence, co-written with Jim Dornan. Within they use an acronym to describe the qualities of an Influencer.

A Person of Influence, or Influencer…

Integrity
Nurtures
Faith in people
Listens
Understands
Enlarges
Navigates
Connects
Empowers
Reproduces

Needless to say, an influencer is a quality person. It is some who endears themselves to others. They have the ability to connect with both individuals, one to one, and the masses. They value trust, respect and love, and show it in their actions. One of the best definitions of love is sincerely and selflessly wanting the best for other people. An influencer, or leader, embodies this. With this kind of definition, which raises the bar considerably, it is apparent that a lot who claim the word leader as a title are merely taking a walk. They might indeed have throngs of people “following” them, but they are following for the handfuls of bread they’re being promised rather than being a part of something greater than themselves. A leader has their best interests at heart, not an agenda that elevates the leader.

A leader has catalytic properties. A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change. In human terms, it is a person who precipitates an event. (I also believe that catalytic individual also changes in the process of influencing others. They grow through the process as well.) For our purposes, a catalyst is someone who is a force of nature. Add them to the mix, and things happen. Things get done. And the folks involved are all the better for this person being in their lives. Make no mistake, leadership involves the pursuit of an objective, and mobilizing people to pursuing that objective. But a good leader doesn’t just utilize people as resources to meet that objective. The people and their well being in the pursuit of that objective is part of the objective. If the people have not grown in the process, then the objective will be of no consequence. It would be just a thing. Pursuing a goal will only lead to growth if the people involved in reaching that goal have grown, too.

Becoming a person of influence and catalyst takes some effort. People are not just born with this kind of dynamic. Leaders will tell you that wise choices, good mentors, deliberate deep practice, and shaping events have chiseled them into what they are. It’s more about the nurture than the nature. One might have a personality that precipitates this kind of development sooner, but make no mistake, where they are took much directed effort.

I leave you with a question: If you want to make a difference in the people’s lives around you, what kind of practices are you establishing so as to be a catalyst in those who are important to you?