This is the second post in my series about what recovering from my recent back surgery is reminding me about entrepreneurship. To read previous posts, click the links at the bottom of this article.
#2 – Building trust in others is YOUR responsibility.
In the face of the unknown, someday we will have no other choice than to trust the advice of experts. This was certainly the case when it came to choosing back surgery. It is also the case when we, as entrepreneurs, arrive at a point on our journey completely foreign to where we have been. If we want to continue forward, we have to remind ourselves that we are not always the only person who can lead. But do not let your loss of direction feel like permission to blindly turn over trust and control.
When we talk about why we trust certain people, especially experts, it is usually because they seem to say or do all the right things. Unfortunately, when we leave the responsibility of building trust in the hands of those experts, more often than not we end up disappointed. In fact, too often we take zero personal responsibility for building a trusting relationship. We look at trust as the responsibility of the person who wants to be in our favor and none of our own.
Real trust should spring from all the things we do to discover the true nature of a person. Trust should never be a conclusion derived from all the things a person says to us. Real trust should be built from that time we are willing to invest on our own. Get referrals. Ask around. Make sure your expert is someone trusted by others. My surgeon is someone who came highly recommended by my family, friends, and colleagues. He was not someone I picked simply because he advertised. I trust him most because I had other choices to evaluate him against.
Trust cannot exist when there is a lack of choices. That is not trust. That is a hostage situation. Do your part. Be responsible for building your own trust through some comparative analysis. Do not be afraid to be a difficult client (in fact, during a medical crisis being a difficult patient could save your life!). Ask questions. Listen, but give more weight to the answers you receive to your specific concerns over the success stories you hear about others. And while it’s great to work with someone who has experience in many different areas, make sure your expert can also address your very specific needs. Not only has my surgeon performed my specific procedure thousands of times on total strangers, he has performed it on people I know (including my mother). He has also had it preformed on him – another sign he is willing to go to the bank on his own advice.
I trusted my expert not because he was the only person I knew who could perform the surgery, but because I knew I had choices. I was willing to invest in the process of building trust with him and together we were able to decide on the best path forward for me.