The Currency of Trust

Here are some hard, cold truths I’ve learned about trust:

The greater the risk-taking, the more trust is needed.

This is true whether it’s just you and your internal risk and trust dance, or it’s a relationship effort. So, when you set-up a high risk ask to your community make sure you’ve got a sizable chunk of mutual trust to back it up. Which leads me to…

Trust is a two-way street.

It’s not enough for someone to trust you, you must trust them too. And when you don’t, they feel it. Just ask any student out there who can feel the requirement for trust towards their teacher, regardless of whether their teachers feels the same towards them. Plus, there’s no way to trust someone fully if you feel their lack of trust in you or in themselves. Ever want to follow a leader that trusts you, but has no trust in themselves? It’s a one step forward, two steps back kinda dance.

The depth of trust is not correlated to any length of time.

It could take you years to build up mutual trust in a relationship. That same level of “I’ve got your back” trust can also be achieved in an instant. Foxhole buddies can attest to that. Which loops back to…

The greater the risk, the more trust is earned.

So, which comes first the trust earned or the trust needed? Depends on the situation. Be open to either, because they both happen all the time.


Because we are quickly becoming a risk adverse society. Which means we are also becoming less trustful and less trustworthy.

Yikes! No, seriously, YIKES.

In our work, Chris and I have to build mutual trust in order to tackle impossible tasks like devise an original physical theatre play with new-to-devising teens in 5-6 weeks that delves into personal ownership, physical and emotional risk, leadership, and connection.

At home, we also have to focus on trust with each other as a wife-husband team, a mother-father team, and a small business owners team.

Recently, I felt the need to help our 5-year old son, Griffin, grasp that intangible thing called trust. But, how?

I had seen a ton of chatty things on Pinterest. Even something called a “Trust Jar” for the child to see how much they’ve gained or lost their parent’s trust. But it felt uneven. It was missing a key component “Trust is a two-way street.” Where was the child’s jar for the parents? Why were the parents off the hook and granted unlimited and assumed trust?

So, I introduced the idea to the family: A trust jar for each of us. We would put in five shells in each jar and whenever trust was lost or gained, it would be clearly said the moment it happened, and deducted or added from the person’s jar.

I explained it to Griffin. Chris, who had to run to the other room for a second, came back into the middle of the explanation. Griffin caught Chris up with his own examples:

“Like today, Dada, when you said you’d play with me after lunch, but then didn’t and didn’t say why. That would be a trust shell. Oh, and when you tickle me sometimes, but don’t stop when I say stop. That’s a trust shell.”

Chris looked at me with wide eyes. So, I guess Griff got it. This is going to help all of us!

Throughout the day, Griffin will ask if this effort or that action is about trust. And sometimes it is like when I asked him to hold my wallet in the store while I tended to Skye (our 5 months old). And sometimes it’s not, like when I asked him to help tidy up around the house. That’s not trust, that’s kind co-habitating.

And have I lost trust, yup. Last night, Griffin asked me to stay while he went to sleep. I did. Then I snuck out and finished up a few things in the living room.

A few hours later, he wakes up and comes out asking what I was doing. I told him. He said that’s a trust shell because I said I would stay. He trusted me. And I didn’t stay.

That hit me hard. Here I was thinking the little white lie of staying in there the whole time would be fine. But it’s not. Not at all. Lesson learned. Griffin deserved the truth.

Tonight, he asked me to stay again and I was honest. I’ll stay until he falls asleep and then I have to go out to the living room and write a story and clean up the kitchen. Then I’ll go to bed. Done. I got my trust shell back.

It’s a currency that needs to be tended to. In this debt-heavy society, we are trying to do a lot more than buying things on credit. We are trying to make life choices and have others do the same on trust credit.

It doesn’t work that way.

**Jazzed by this? This is just a taste of what we’re cooking up in my secret—shhhh!—Facebook group “The Revolution is YOU”. Come on over if you’re ready to build trust and take huge risks in your work.

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