The Xenium Book Club kicked off their first discussion with Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World by Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg Link. We started with this book because many of us were already fans of the Coveys and knew we would have ample material in discussing this book over coffee.
The premise of the book is a careful description of the five actions of Smart Trust. The authors begin by defining the various types of trust: Blind Trust, Distrust and Smart Trust. These are trusts which people regularly experience in their personal and professional lives.
Blind Trust is an interesting concept to me, simply because I live it most of the time. In simple terms, it’s naiveté. It’s the fact that you see the world in an all-trusting way. For example, you may be closing a deal with a business you have never heard of, or leaving your doors unlocked while you are out with the assumption that you will not be taken advantage of. Most of us would say, “what’s wrong with that?” In Covey and Link’s eyes, this isn’t Smart Trust because there are unnecessary risks taken by walking into a situation blind without exercising due diligence before extending trust.
Conversely, Distrust is the practice of generally withholding trust. Covey and Link argue that Distrust slows decision-making and is extremely expensive to organizations as a lack of trust makes it hard to get anything done.
Smart Trust, on the other hand, is the use of analysis to make a judgment to trust or not. It involves the assessment of a situation in terms of its risk and the possible outcomes and making a decision to extend trust or not. The authors argue that the appropriate and efficient default response should be to lead with trust.
Smart Trust then delves into the meat of the book. Several chapters are dedicated to the five actions:
1) Choose to Believe in Trust
2) Start with Self
3) Declare Your Intent…and Assume Positive Intent in Others
4) Do What You Say You’re Going to Do, and
5) Lead Out in Extending Trust.
These five steps explain how you can engage in Smart Trust, and backs this with a book packed full of examples, stories and quotes to support each step of the process.
Although this book fits seamlessly into the business world due to the abundance of examples from leaders of organizations, it can very well be applied to one’s personal life as well. Through a frank discussion within our group of Xenium readers, we learned that one of us was experiencing Distrust in others on a regular basis, while another (yours truly) extended trust almost always, without any analysis of the situation first.
I am almost certain that it would be impossible to take every idea in this book and practice it exactly as it is defined; but, I am confident and can personally attest that we can use some of these concepts to make a positive impact in the relationships we have with our clients, coworkers, friends, and family.
Xenium Book Club Rating: 3.5/5
For those of you interested in reading along with Xenium, our next read scheduled for discussion in May is Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh.