The Speed of Trust: Chapter 2

There were two points in the second chapter of The Speed of Trust that had an impact on me.

Stewardship and Accountability

I learned in this chapter that the Stephen Covey who wrote this book is the son of the Stephen Covey who wrote the popular Seven Habits book. In Seven Habits, the father tells the story of teaching his son to take care of his yard. In The Speed of Trust we get to hear that very son tell his side of the story. I enjoyed seeing this story from those different perspectives. The son’s main point was that when his father entrusted the keeping of the yard to him, that trust inspired him to become trustworthy. The main aspects of this story that I found instructive were:

  • Clear stewardship. The father said the grass was to be kept “green and clean.” He showed in detail by example what both of those words meant.
  • Defined accountability. The father explained that once a week they would walk through the yard together to see how well the son was keeping the yard green and clean.
  • Autonomy of the “steward.” The father explained that the son was to use his own plan, his own timeline, his own resources, his own ideas to carry out his stewardship. The father didn’t give him detailed instructions, and wasn’t going to be reminding him and driving him to get the work done.
  • Sufficient equipping. The father said he would be willing to help if the son needed it. It was clear that the son would need to ask for it, but all the resources of the father would be available to the son to be successful in his stewardship.
  • Allowing failure. Things didn’t go perfectly right away; the son neglected his duties for a while. Yet the father honored the son’s autonomy by not nagging on him to get to work. The time of reckoning came, of course, at the agreed upon appointment when the accounting came. There were tears at this accounting, but the agreement continued, and the father dealt with things in a way that lead to the son learning how to keep the yard green and clean.
  • Trust created trustworthiness. In this book, Covey’s primary emphasis was that when you entrust something to someone, just the very act of entrusting someone with the responsibility can inspire them to become more trustworthy. (Of course one can take this to naïve and foolish extremes.)

The story in the book that illustrates these things adds a lot of meaning to these points. I am going to try to put this into practice with my kids and their chores and schoolwork. At this point we are homeschooling our kids, and a few of them wear their mother out because she has to keep riding them to keep on their work. I think a system like this may help – to tell them, “It’s no longer your mother’s job to make sure you get your work done. It’s your job. And every other evening you have an appointment with me, where you will give an account of where your schoolwork and chores are at.”

Trust = Character + Competence

It seems very true to me. When we trust someone in a particular circumstance, we have to trust both their character and their competence. Other ways to describes these are integrity and intelligence; personal trust and expertise trust; heart and head.

Consider that a person can be a wonderfully nice and honest person who never breaks the most minute law, always holds doors for ladies and helps the elderly. But if that person is not a very good carpenter, you’re not going to trust him to build the shed in your back yard. For specific circumstances, character is not enough; competence is necessary.

The reverse is certainly true: you can have the most proficient carpenter in the world, but if he’s a liar and a cheat and has a dangerous temper, you’re not going to want to work with him, either.

I found the examination of the two facets of trust to be very clarifying to my own thinking.

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