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Considered Trust


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“One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.”

Oscar Wilde

David enthusiastic looked through the documents in front of him. The results were a few weeks coming, and even though this was not uncommon territory for him – it looked like it always pleased him. They were the type of documents that could affect a person’s life forever. He took the job seriously and looked to bring the best insights from the material.

A practising Psychologist, a significant part of David’s work revolved around helping people change and re-jig their careers.

Today those results related to me – and my interests were as high as David’s. Several weeks earlier, I did a battery of tests over a couple of days to see where my strengths and weaknesses lie and what potential interests and careers may be possibilities.

I was about halfway through a six-year period where my health was poor, strength and stamina low, and it was evident that returning to a past career was probably not likely. Whilst I may not be yet able to work, I wished to explore what opportunities could be developed as my health hopefully recovered. That still was not certain, so I was willing to keep an open mind, as I may have to make some choices that would change or need to be adapted over time.

David looked up at me – “There’s a lot of things that stick out here, but there is one that really suits you – That’s advertising. You’d be brilliant.”

I had always thought about advertising. Over the years, I had produced and helped package many things for companies I’d worked for and other clients. Unbeknown to David in the back of my diary that day, I had the outlines of two potential campaigns for major companies that I’d just written on spec on a whim as the ideas had come to me. His comments and observations looked like an affirmation that I was on the right path.

However, there was a “but” coming, and I could see it in his face.

“There is only one problem, Owen.”

I remember thinking, that’s ok. I’m pretty good at overcoming problems…

“The problem Owen is – your ethic’s”

I remember replying, “what’s wrong with them?”

David said – “Nothing – the problem is you have them. And for you, any career in advertising will always cause you grief. Your inner world will have a high chance to conflict with what you are called to create. You would not be happy.”

His comments were a huge relief to me. I had been drawn to advertising. However, I had never understood why I had never been able to put a lot of energy behind it – to actively go after it. It also gave me an understanding of why I left specific jobs and industries when it became clear as I matured that their values and actions failed to live up to their rhetoric.

So, this is all very well, but what has this got to do with Considered Trust?

I want to use advertising as a jumping-off point for this discussion.

We tend to break trust into two camps – either trustworthy or not. A black and white approach, and yet it is a little greyer than that.

My first experience with Subway was in North Carolina – east coast USA. My Australian travel companions had enthusiastically wanted to explore this rising star of the fast-food market.

On my first reading of the menu, I noticed the ownership, and its other name was Doctor’s Associates Inc. I remember thinking – clever marketing. It makes one believe that it is more healthy – that a group of doctors got together and came up with the most nutritious food they could create.

Another part of the marketing the bread is “baked fresh”. Again, one is tempted to think that workers come in at 3 am, open packets of flour and pound the dough with ovens delivering the freshly baked rolls just in time for the store opening. No, not quite. The sub-rolls are created using frozen dough in specially designed ovens.

It is a great set up and creates a fast, efficient system. Subway minizines waste and maximize convenience and profits.

Am I saying Subway is untrustworthy – no – but my trust is considered. I trust them to deliver what they do very well. The business will be clean and open when they say they do. I trust them to be convenient, staff well trained and helpful. However, if I want to eat fresh and healthy, I have to make my own choices when I purchase from them. Some options will be healthy than others. I look past the obvious easy conclusions and consider what areas to trust.

In Australia, we have a fast-food company called Pie Face. They create unique pies with smiley handwritten, drawn faces to differentiate one variety of pastries from the next. Their slogan is “Handcrafted Oven Fresh”. Again, we are tempted to see someone out the back labouring over hot stoves pulling your fresh pie out of the oven and delivered with a smile to your waiting hands. Alas, not so – they are baked daily from frozen, and to make sure they remain fresh to eat, they have a system to prepare only the right amount as the business needs. I trust them to do what they do well, but I make it myself if I want a handcrafted fresh pie; – my trust is considered.

I have zero trust in nuclear power. Why? Because human beings created it. I do not doubt that the people who are designing the power stations etc. are doing the best. They use the best science and install the best safety systems and fail-safe options. But history and life experience tell us all that we humans tend to make mistakes, and it doesn’t matter how hard we try; we keep making them. Throw in self-interest, politics, and a little greed here and there, and we have a recipe for disaster. Now, if the mistake had minor consequences, then maybe be nuclear power is a good option. But alas as well know, that is not the case. So, on consideration, there is no reason to trust any human-designed controlled disaster in waiting.

I have a close and long term friend with whom I would never be in business. He is one of my closest friends. When I was rock bottom, he was the first person I called and explained what was going on. Why? Because I knew without a shade of doubt that he would be there for me. I would not have to call twice. He would understand and bring whatever solution he was capable of to the table to care for me in my time of need.

But I would never be in business with him.

Our values are too different. And I not talking illegal here, but how we like to conduct and run businesses. Our combined faults would cause not only the enterprise to fail but more than likely cost our friendship. It is too important to lose. He is one of my biggest fans and most important friends. My trust is considered.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Ernest Hemingway

We as humans tend to become believers and followers rather than students who are open to growth and change. When we look for where to place our trust, it is always important to remember that there are always agenda’s at play we are dealing with blinds spots and human flaws. Well-meaning people and leaders may be trustworthy as characters but may indeed be playing for the wrong side. We need to be aware that human beings are blinkered, and we are only as good as our world views allow us. In the words of Jack Lang, the former NSW Premier, ‘In the race of life, always back self-interest – at least you know it’s trying’.

Trust is essential; it is a short cut for social order and cohesion. Blind trust, even when it is unrealized, is a recipe for disaster. So considered trust – trust with thinking, understanding and love- may mitigate those potential disasters that lie ahead of us all – because we are human.

Thoughts to ponder

Till next time

Resources and Further Reading

The Laws of Human Nature – Robert Greene

The Biggest Bluff – Maria Konnikova

Influence: Science and Practice – Robert B. Caildini


Written By Owen Thomas


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