I’ve found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.

Gandalf, from "The Hobbit (film)"

To be trustworthy is more than just keeping our word. It means that our words, decisions, and actions—actually, our whole life—consistently align with our character.

Submit your personal story or favorite illustration, quote, Bible verse, etc. that illustrates a specific virtue to [email protected], then click on the virtue of your choice on the Virtues page to see your story or the stories and illustrations of others.

June 27, 2021

The One Thing That Changes Everything
by Alexander Green

Whether you realize it or not, one indispensable quality affects every relationship in your life.

It holds together all your associations. It determines whether you realize your dreams, both personal and professional. 

And it virtually defines you to others. Without it, true success is impossible. 

Stephen M.R. Covey is even more emphatic. He writes “There is one thing that is common to every individual, relationship, team, family, organization, nation, economy, and civilization throughout the world – one thing which, if removed, will destroy the most powerful government, the most thriving economy, the most influential leadership, the greatest friendship, the strongest character, the deepest love. 

On the other hand, if developed and leveraged, that one thing has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity in every dimension of life. Yet, it is the least understood, most neglected, and most underestimated possibility of our time.

That one thing is trust.”

Simply put, trust is confidence in an individual or organization. It is other people feeling good about relying on you.   

And its value can hardly be overstated. Trustworthiness is the universally accepted test of good character.

When you trust someone, you have confidence in his or her honesty and abilities. You can delegate things easily and effectively. You can relax. You have peace of mind.

But when you doubt someone’s integrity, question his accomplishments, or worry about his agenda, confidence is replaced by suspicion and anxiety.

Take a moment and picture someone you trust implicitly. It could be a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a business associate. How does this relationship make you feel? How easily do you communicate? How quickly do things get done?

Now imagine someone you distrust. How does this relationship feel? How easily do you communicate? Do you enjoy this relationship… or is it complicated, cumbersome and draining?

The difference between a high-trust and low-trust relationship is night and day. In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing and your listener still understands you. In a low-trust relationship, you can choose your words carefully, be very precise, and you may still be misunderstood.

Sadly, trust is at an ebb in our society. A Harris poll reveals that only 27% of Americans trust the government, only 22% trust the media, only 12% trust big companies, and only 8% trust political parties. 

Personal trust is waning, too. Many people nowadays look back on contracts or commitments as something to negotiate. Half of all marriages end in divorce. Many (perhaps most) of them founder on a lack of trust.

Each of us naturally gravitates away from individuals we can’t believe or rely on and towards those we can. Low trust is the very definition of a bad relationship. And once you forfeit someone’s confidence, it’s awfully hard to win it back.

This is particularly true in business. 

We all survive by selling a product, service or skill. Yet every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.

If trust is lacking, forget the other four. You’re done. The moment someone suspects your motives, everything you do becomes tainted.

That’s why successful companies make a priority of building and maintaining confidence. John Whitney, a Professor Emeritus of Management at Columbia Business School, estimates that mistrust doubles the cost of doing business.

You may have the best product, great service, competitive pricing, mountains of supporting facts and figures and testimonials galore. But if you don’t command and deserve trust, you will not enjoy long-term success.

It is never enough to simply invite trust. It must be earned.

In personal relationships, that means handling responsibility, proving your credibility, allowing yourself to be relied upon again and again. It’s not just about integrity. It’s about looking out for the other person’s interests as well as your own.

Employers build trust with employees by assigning them important responsibilities, giving them the freedom to make mistakes, and setting an example. Real leadership is about getting results in ways that inspire confidence. 

In a world that changes as quickly as ours, trust is a critical factor. It is the vital currency.

Business consultant Tom Peters calls trust “the issue of the decade.” Trust makes work easier and more productive. It makes relationships stable and predictable. It creates a sense of community. 

That’s why it’s crucial that we not violate it. Trust can take years to build but only a moment to destroy. And you may not even get an opportunity to try to restore it.

For each of us – and for every organization – trust is something to be built up, protected, valued, cherished, and carefully preserved.

It is the one thing that changes everything.

July 18, 2021

When I think of what a true friend is, “trustworthy” is probably the first attribute that comes to mind.

One of my biggest regrets is the times in my younger life when I let my friends down. And the most hurtful times in my own life are those times people I thought were my friends…let me down. 

I deeply desire to be known as “trustworthy.” So help me God.

   —Art Nicklaus