“As soon as you trust yourself you will know how to live, “ observed the German philosopher Goethe. Apparently, that’s easier said than done.
I frequently receive calls from people who have attended my seminars. The opening query often sounds like this: “I have an idea for a business and I want you to tell me if it’s really dumb.” Before I even hear what the idea is, I point out that in the past 20 years I’ve only heard one bad idea so the chance that they’ll come up with the second bad idea isn’t great.
However, it doesn’t matter how good an idea is if you don’t believe that it’s good. And that’s the big secret to building trust. It is totally dependent on what we believe to be true. We can’t trust ourselves if our belief system says that we have little to contribute. When we find ourselves being more doubting than trusting, that’s a signal to stop and take a long look at the belief that’s behind our behavior.
Furthermore, we can’t become trusting simply by keeping our ideas to ourselves in the hope that we’ll gather the necessary confidence to do something about them. Trust is built through doing.
If you’d like to build a bigger trust fund, there’s a simple exercise that will help you do just that. As you go about your day, notice how often—usually without even thinking about it—you operate in a trusting mode. When you drive a car, for instance, you’d never be able to leave the driveway if you didn’t trust that other drivers were going to operate their cars by the same rules, stopping for red lights, staying on the proper side of the road, and so on. At the end of the day, think back on all the time you spent trusting that others were going to do what you expected of them. There’s the bank teller that actually put the money into your account, the cashier that gave you the correct change after charging you the proper price, the client that met you at the right time and place for lunch.
Now consider an idea that’s been lurking in your thoughts. Do you offer yourself and your idea the same level of trust that you give to total strangers and casual acquaintances? If so, give yourself credit for that; if not, ask yourself why. It may be that you generally don’t think highly of your own creative process. That’s a signal that some inner work is in order.
A few years ago, Hallmark Cards had a television commercial showing a young girl getting ready to compete in a sporting event. Her mother hands her a card and says, “This is for if you win.” Then she hands her another and says, “This is for if you lose.” When the girl opens the cards we see that they’re identical and say, “I’m so proud of you.”
We can only trust ourselves and our ideas if we aren’t attached to winning or fearful of losing. We build stronger trust in the act of doing, of following our ideas to wherever they lead.
Even ideas that turn out to go nowhere have a purpose if we can use them like mental yoga letting them stretch us farther and make us stronger.
I like this idea. To take it further, perhaps you can build trust in yourself the same way you build trust in others – one small step at a time. Trust yourself in small things, then, once you have succeeded with the small things, try trusting yourself with bigger things, then with the very biggest things. Eventually, it will be your instinct.