This is a guest post by Steven M. Worth of Plexus Consulting.
Trust and be patient….
Sound familiar? If any of you are like me, these wise words are often difficult to heed. Whether you are a parent, supervisor, partner, or teammate it may be hard not to have anxiety about how others will perform. Will they be on time? Will they meet expectations? In effect, can I trust them?
As a part of our interview process through which we created the case studies of successful partnerships that were used in The Power of Partnership—Principles and Practices for Creating Strategic Relationships Among Nonprofit Groups, For-Profit Organizations, and Governmental Entities (Plexus Consulting Group, ASAE and the Center for Association Leadership and the US Chamber of Commerce, 2008) I sometimes provocatively asked what a partner would do if their counterpart in the partnership were to try to take advantage of them in some way. The response I got was invariably the same. After thoughtful reflection, each one of them concluded with words like “they wouldn’t do that—or that is not something they would do.” They trusted because they had done their due diligence prior to forming the partnership and because they had seen proof of good faith in the day-to-day performance of duties small and large.
The public servants and business and association leaders I respect most have that same quality of equanimity when waiting upon a decision from their board of directors, the electorate, or a potential client or business partner. We all know the type—the diligent and thoughtful worker who will spare no pains in preparing a report or presenting a case and then who can sleep soundly the night before a decision, knowing they have done all they could. Whether consciously or not, they have taken Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer to heart: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
The curious thing about the lack of trust is that it tends to bring on that which we fear most. I recall a famous experiment a number of years ago in which students taking tests were monitored for cheating by cameras that they did not know were there. The experiment found that those classrooms that were most severely monitored by proctors walking through the rows of desks regularly had more incidents of cheating than classrooms in which the teacher had left the room or in one instance where the monitoring teacher was literally blind. In these instances, we could see that students rose to or sank to the levels that were expected of them.
Perhaps we should contemplate these thoughts and see if they bring us peace during this holiday season.