Trust is not something that can be earned. It is only given or lost.
In the movie, A League of Their Own, there’s a scene at the train station where Jon Lovitz is waiting for two dairy farm workers, played by Gina Davis and Lori Petty, to get on the train. They’re reluctant to board and so Lovitz’s character says, “See, the way it works is, the train moves, not the station.”
The train moves, not the station! That one gets me every time.
It kind of works the same way with trust, if trust is the train and the person is the station. The train can only be let go (given) to go where it has the potential to go. That’s what its built to do.
Maybe the train goes off the rails. Maybe it breaks down. Maybe. But, mostly it takes everyone where they need to go. To do that, it must be let go from the station. Trust must be given.
If the train had to be inspected, over and over again; checked and re-checked as if having to prove its worthiness and never actually let go from the station, because no matter what it does while sitting there ever earns actual trust, it goes nowhere and does no one any good. And the train deteriorates.
The train would never be able to become what it needs to be, do what it was meant to do, without being given trust. It can’t prove a damn thing sitting at the station, one way or the other.
When someone says, “you have to earn my trust”, it means they don’t trust you. It does. I mean you either do or you don’t and if we haven’t “earned” it yet (as if it would happen sometime in the future), it doesn’t exist now. So, no trust.
We either give someone our trust or we don’t and if we don’t, we don’t trust them. It’s just the way the math works. And that’s okay, depending on the circumstances. There are things to consider, of course. But that train (employee, partner, spouse, friend, etc) will never perform at its greatest potential if not trusted to leave the station.
Like most things, we can’t give trust if we don’t have it. If we don’t trust ourselves, how can we trust others? We can’t give something we don’t have. Maybe we need to be honest with ourselves. If someone broke our trust, it hurts; emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, physically, and even financially. But, that was that person, not everyone else. And when someone breaks our trust, especially in the worst ways, the real damage is on them. I know it doesn’t seem that way and maybe they don’t even feel it. But, their soul does. It’s just a bad train.
And let’s not confuse trust for competency. That train will not take me to the door step of my destination. It doesn’t do that. My trust is that it will do what it does; stay on the rails and take me to my destination station. Nothing more, nothing less. I’ll need an Uber to take me from the station and hmm, let’s see; get into a stranger’s personal car …
But we do it every day, don’t we? It’s a matter of trust. Trust that is given.
Photo by gavin_s_wilson on Instagram.