Trust is a strange thing.

I was thinking about the wonder of spontaneous trust the other day at Profiles gym swimming pool. While doing my laps, I could follow what was going on with the swimming class for tiny toddlers. How cheerfully they hurled themselves forward in the pool, with total abandon, sure in their trust that they will land in the arms of their coach.

It reminded me that sure we were born with a natural trusting instinct – and that indeed it works wonders for us as we explore the world – until we lose it.

As adults we’ve all had plenty of experiences of broken trust and we have had to deal with the question of how to recover trust.

A lot of negativity in our relationships in general and in business relations especially is born out of damage due to broken trust. Whether small damage or real trauma comes to us when one particular case or person broke our trust – we all tend to transfer this loss of trust onto a wider scale: distrusting new situations, way beyond the actual incident. It is as if the damage done by one incident casts a shadow over our belief in humanity.

So much in our daily life is actually built on the invisible tenets of trust: from trusting that the oncoming traffic will stay in its lane, to expecting our family to be reunited at home when all are back from school and work. We still trust bank transactions to go through and food to be available on the shelves of our supermarkets.

The loss of innocence in trusting the world is inevitable. And the re-connection to trust, or the conscious awakening to the value of trust, is an important operational part of our toolkit for survival.

Here are 2 small examples from real life.

A teenager awakens to the power of trust:

‘We stood talking to our English teacher. Real talking – he was speaking to us as if we were adults. In the course of our discussion my friend made a comment. Then our teacher remarked: “You have just spoken like one of my friends. He never liked it when people are spoken ill of; he never accused them in their absence when they were unable to defend themselves.” I caught a message that changed me: from that day it sank deep into me, like a command, not to say anything bad about a person. When I hear a rumour about someone, I don’t spread it. I believe everyone needs to be treated with some level of trust and credibility until that person proves otherwise.’

Another example of the power of trust is in the context of money. Where there is money involved, we as South Africans have learned to be extremely cautious, and not to give our trust too readily!

Someone posted this on a website.

‘I bought a violin from a man who lives a long distance away. I had contacted him by phone after being informed about him by my violin teacher. The violin seller asked for my name and address and we agreed that he would send me the violin. I could send him my old one and after he had evaluated my old violin he would bill me – less the trade-in. I was the proud owner of a violin probably worth $1000 for 2 weeks before I received his bill. Here is a man who truly believes in others. I was honored to be the recipient of his trust and have resolved to do the same, every day.’

What we see is that it can take just 1 experience to break trust – but equally that 1 experience can instil the magnitude of trust.

In our society – with all its scams and unreliable appointments and empty promises – it is easy to go down the slippery slope of cynicism and negativity and to lose all trust. This kind of negativity is called ‘realism’ by the cynics, but I call it negativity. To adopt this as a lifestyle does not make you happy; it affects your wellbeing and it makes you sick.

A strategy to liaise about building and restoring bridges of trust creates a positive energy field. In a positive energy field we can do good business.

What we try and do in our Business Network International chapter, to generate and maintain trusted referrals and connections, is not only commendable but a top priority if we want to surround ourselves with healthy business propositions and clean money. I said it before in other contexts but I’d like to repeat it again: together as a network, we multiply the impact that we have as individuals or small business, and we create a hub of honorable trade.