Growing up, my parents placed a lot of emphasis on trust: who to trust, how much to trust, how trust is broken – and repaired. Trust was the currency – when saved over time – that gave me freedom to enjoy the world outside our home. Trust slowly opens doors, but when lost, quickly closes them,” my parents said often. It was my reminder to always do the right thing.

As remarkable as 2017 has been, I can’t help but notice that trust is having a “moment.” Experts say it’s breaking down, disintegrating, transforming – in society, thought leadership and business, at home and around the world. And as our modern-day Silicon Valley business moguls have exhibited, it’s clear trust is not what it once was.

3 Acts to Conquer Thought Leadership

But I want to believe we’re all hopeful and optimistic about the future. We recently asked our clients, speakers and top thought leaders, from a variety of disciplines, to share their “word of the year”– one word that would help define and guide them in 2018. Two of our tech gurus, Jeff Hancock and Bryant Walker Smith, chose “trust” (fitting, considering this year’s seemingly rampant security breaches). I found several others’ responses to be related to trust too.

ExperimentAlex Osterwalder, Strategyzer

< ik-speruh-muh nt > verb. To try or test, especially in order to discover or prove something.

Osterwalder says that experiments, when done quickly and cheaply, can lead to breakthrough ideas that change businesses and disrupt industries. But to get to that point, business leaders must first relinquish control and trust their thinkers and doers to try new things. Mistakes will be made. But the benefits will far outweigh the (ideally, small) costs.

AgencyHeather Staker, Ready to Blend

<ey-juh n-see> noun. The state of being in action or of exerting power.

Psychology theory states that our human needs rest, in part, on our ability to realize our fullest potential and be creative. From that, we learn, grow and ultimately, survive as a species. As a former educator, I’ve come to realize that without trust, agency is impossible. We can’t trust students to work independently, think critically and revel in self-discovery if we haven’t modeled what that looks like. We can’t trust employees to behave appropriately in the workplace if we allow the bad eggs to proceed without consequences. If and when we achieve maximum agency as a society, it will be as a result of leaders, managers and educators supplying their constituents, employees and students with the proper tools to succeed – and modeling the desired acts – rather than leaving them to their own devices. Then and only then, can we trust others to act accordingly.

“Persist because we must. Despite it all, continue to stand for the good and true.” – Stew Friedman

PersistEfosa Ojomo, Harvard Business School; Len Schlesinger, Harvard Business School; Stew Friedman, The Wharton School

< per-sist> verb. To continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose course of action, especially in spite of opposition.

No matter which side of the aisle you sit on politically, or which faith you practice, it’s a fair assessment to say that these are economically and socially trying times. While tomorrow is not promised, when we persist, we are making an active decision to trust that what’s around the next corner of life will be positive. Persistence generates new ideas. Persistence grows businesses. Persistence creates change. And as Professor Stew Friedman says, “Persist because we must. Despite it all, continue to stand for the good and true.”

Who and how we trust will continue to change. Businesses must embrace transparency; people need to be more aware.Click To TweetTrust weaves itself into many aspects of our lives, both business and personal. Who and how we trust will continue to change. Businesses must embrace transparency; people need to be more aware. But just think: if we trusted nothing and no one, where would we be?! As we prepare for the new year, consider the three words and ideas above. Here’s to better, brighter and trust-filled 2018.
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Having grown up in a military family, Whitney appreciates the opportunities the lifestyle offered: living and learning in a foreign country, traveling the world with her small family unit, and experiencing different types of food, music and people. Culturally curious, she finds joy in her role as a speaker’s agent, connecting and communicating with customers from all corners of the globe. A lifelong athlete and former educator, she values teamwork, collaboration, perseverance and the constant quest for knowledge. A visual artist at heart, Whitney expresses her creativity through her love of fashion and design, and by indulging in mid-20th century films.