Trust others as if life depends on it — because it does

Trust is the most important ingredient in every relationship. It’s the most difficult element to develop, the easiest to lose, and the toughest to ever regain.

Trust is the critical first step to building a winning team and launching and sustaining a profitable business. Without trust, every relationship is shallow and fleeting. Because we are human beings living in a global society, trust is our most important connector.

I observed constant and intense trust while interacting with pilots in the U.S. Air Force. Pilots have repeatedly told me, “We meticulously fly by trust in teamwork. Teamwork begins and ends with cooperation and coordination, which can only come through complete and total trust.”

Formation flying constitutes a startling display of trust in motion. When I rode in a T-38 jet trainer at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, we took off in formation with another aircraft and flew in formation for 60 minutes, doing acrobatic show maneuvers only three feet apart from wing to wing.

When we landed, flight instructor Lt. Colonel Ben Stagg explained to me that formation flying is done entirely by sight, called triangulation. The pilot in the lead plane determines everything you do and everywhere you go. Altitude, speed, direction—you do not question; you only follow.

We trust others (and ourselves) because we have taken the time to know them and examine them honestly, thus certifying them as worthy of our trust.

As significant people understand, trust is given, received and fully accepted only when it is earned. It is given when all parties do what they should, when they should and give it everything they’ve got, not because others expect superior effort, but because they demand it of themselves—because their consciences demand it.

Trust is the backbone and conscience is the spinal cord of every meaningful relationship. Without trust and conscience, relationships die.

I challenge you to live in a way that builds trusting relationships. Focus on saying what you mean, meaning what you say, being consistent by following through and always doing what you say you are going to do. Your most valuable interactions depend on it.

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