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The Power of Trust
My experience with the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey holds some valuable lessons on how to get and maintain trust.
Sooner or later every executive realizes that 99 percent of the people she depends on for success don't report to her. The success of every CEO depends far more on vendors, stockholders, board members, regulators, politicians, strategic partners, the financial community, the media, and customers than it does on the relatively small number of paid employees that report to her either directly or indirectly. Leadership relies on persuasion and persuasion relies on trust. As another example, few people realize that the all-important corporate profit-and-loss statement (P&L) contains no cash or real money. It consists primarily of accounts receivable and accounts payable, which in turn are merely the promises that others make to pay us and the promises we make to pay others at some future date. Without the trust that underlies these promises commerce would grind to a halt.
My experience with the Trappist monks of Mepkin Abbey holds some valuable lessons on how to get and maintain trust.
1. Become Trustworthy. We are hardwired to seek out trust- worthy people, and to test others to see whom we can trust. But the first step is to become trustworthy ourselves. Like attracts like, and if you invest in becoming a person others can trust people whom you can trust will be attracted to you.
2. Keep Your Promises. The surest mark of a trustworthy person is one who keeps his promises. Keep small or even trivial promises because others will gauge your reliability on the big things from how you handle the little ones, even if they are not consciously aware of it.
3. Keep Promises to Yourself. It is an unfortunate human failing that we insist on virtues in others that we don't develop in ourselves. Keeping promises to yourself is closely correlated with willpower and self-control, and these virtues are essential to being trustworthy -- especially when the chips are down. Remember, willpower is like any other muscle. No matter how out of shape your willpower may be, if you engage in daily exercises like being on time you will gradually master yourself.
4. Under Commit and Over Deliver. Make sure that you only make promises that you know you can keep. We overcommit because we want people to love and respect us, yet the quickest way to lose love and respect is to fail to keep our promises. Get in the habit of writing down every promise you make, no matter how trivial. This will give you a way to manage your promise making and evaluate how well you are doing in keeping them.
5. Be Willing to Make Promises. One of the stratagems that notoriously unreliable people use is refusing to make promises in the first place. This fallacious line of reasoning argues that if you don't make any promises, you don't have to worry about breaking them. People quickly see through this strategy, and even more quickly you will get the reputation not only for unreliability but for being indecisive as well. Remember that a refusal to make a decision is just another kind of decision.
6. Protect Your Personal Brand. We usually think of a brand as something that belongs to laundry soap. But we all have a personal brand. Like a good brand manager, get in the habit of constantly asking yourself, "How will this decision affect my personal brand?" Everything you do or don't do affects your brand, and in the long run your reputation is your most valuable asset.
7. Eradicate Ambiguity. Nothing undermines trust faster than ambiguity. We default to phrases like "I'll try" in order to furnish plausible deniability when we fail to deliver. Many of the "he said, she said" controversies that produce so much friction in business are caused by ambiguous attempts by everyone involved to stay off the hook. Almost every time I run down one of these disagreements I find that the real culprit is a failure by the parties involved to be clear and specific in the first place about who is promising what to whom by when.
8. Institutionalize Promise Keeping. At our own company, RGI, we institutionalized promise keeping. Every critical task had to have its own paper trail that included a clear understanding of who was involved, the promise made, and the criteria by which the promise could be determined as fulfilled. My partners and I relentlessly managed this process, and the little bit of extra effort up front that it took to produce this paper trail paid off handsomely in time saved and ill will avoided after the fact.
9. Never Make People Ask. If you make people hound you about a promise, you have already lost half of your credibility. If one of your people is up for review and must ask you for it, you usually end up giving a bigger raise while receiving little goodwill in return. Nothing builds trust better than anticipating your obligations and delivering on them without being asked. A debt repaid before it is asked for reaps a huge dividend in trust. The money that changes hands is the same, but the trust equation is radically different.
10. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. No one can keep all their promises, but there is no excuse for a failure to communicate that we may be unable to deliver. We often avoid communicating from embarrassment or the fear of admitting failure, but this only leads others to assume that you had no intention of keeping your promise and were hoping that they would fail to notice. Get in the habit of preemptively sending status reports on your promises. If everything is going to plan you spare others from worrying, and if not you give them time to go to Plan B.
11. Aim Past the Target. It is impossible to be trustworthy in business if you are unreliable in the rest of your life. The monks of Mepkin give little thought to that narrow field called "business ethics." The trust that the monks enjoy in business merely spills over from the way they live their lives. Trust for the monks is not a business strategy or tactic; it is the natural by-product of living for a higher purpose. Conversely, if you value trust for its selfish utility value alone, you will most likely fail in your efforts.
Trust is the most powerful form of capital there is, and nothing makes a business run more smoothly than trust. In addition, trust is not a scarce resource. Like Mepkin, we can all have more of it than we need. Warren Buffett has spent his life accumulating trust, and this trust is directly responsible for the "Buffett Discount" he often gets when he buys a company. Sellers know that he will treat them honorably, and this is so valuable that they are willing to accept Buffett's offer even when richer offers are on the table. However, while trust is not a scarce resource, it is a fragile asset. Once squandered it may be impossible to regain.
Copyright © 2013 August Turak, author of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity
August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, award winning writer and author of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity (Columbia Business School Publishing; July 2013). He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Selling Magazine, the New York Times, and Business Week, and is a popular leadership contributor at Forbes.com. His website is www.augustturak.com.
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Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
How can we promote the creation of new neurons - and why is it so important?
- Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth.
- After birth, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain: the olfactory bulb (which is responsible for our sense of smell) and the hippocampus (which is responsible for memory, spatial navigation, and emotional processing).
- Research from the 1960s proves creating new neurons as adults is possible, and modern-day research explains how (and why) we should promote new neuron growth.
Two parts of the brain can continue growing through neurogenesis<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkyMzk2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTAwODc1MH0.4GDLlZmkwuD0-pJ0s0UWcUoYXMy95a-AM61a_QAlAeA/img.jpg?width=980" id="2e77e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4e23499fdf3b2185533979083fd02db7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="brain made of twigs and plants concept of neurogenesis" />
Neurogenesis is still possible well into adulthood in two very important parts of the human brain.
Image by EtiAmmos on Shutterstock<p>Although most people are aware that aging or bad habits such as heavy alcohol use can contribute to the deterioration of our brains, not many of us give thought to how we can generate new brain cells.</p><p>Neurogenesis, the birth of neurons from stem cells, happens mostly before we are born - as we are formed in the womb, we are generating most of what we need after birth. </p><p><strong>After birth, however, neurogenesis is still possible in two parts of the brain:</strong></p><ul><li>The olfactory bulb, which is a structure of the forebrain that's responsible for our sense of smell. </li><li>The hippocampus, which is a structure of the brain located within the temporal lobe (just above your ears) - this area is important for learning, memory, regulation, of emotions and spatial navigation. </li></ul><p>Of course, when this information first came to light <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13860748" target="_blank">back in the 1960s</a>, the next natural question was: How do we promote neurogenesis in those areas where it's still possible? </p><p>Researchers today believe there are activities you can do (some of them may be things you already do on a daily basis) that can promote neurogenesis in your brain. </p><p><strong>Why is it important to promote the growth of new neurons in adulthood?</strong></p><p>We produce an estimated 700 million neurons per day in the hippocampus - this means by the time we reach the age of 50, we will have exchanged the neurons we were born within that area of the brain with new (adult-generated) neurons. </p><p>If we don't promote this exchange with the growth of new neurons, we may block certain abilities these new neurons help us with (such as keeping our memory sharp, for example). </p>
4 ways to promote neurogenesis in your brain<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjkyMzk2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTE3NjczNH0.qyzh_AIUPKfaQIa1QEq4yTNCAAK9nYkH3HFV9vWXwww/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C104&height=700" id="64a68" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ee1307fe2dd61ae425552da56db3c5ff" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="child playing trumpet concept of learning a new instrument neurogenesis" />
Learning a new instrument helps promote neurogenesis.
Photo by DenisProduction.com on Shutterstock<p><strong>Intermittent fasting</strong></p><p><a href="https://law.stanford.edu/2015/01/09/lawandbiosciences-2015-01-09-intermittent-fasting-try-this-at-home-for-brain-health/" target="_blank">A 2015 Stanford study</a> examined the link between <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-to-do-intermittent-fasting#section1" target="_blank">intermittent fasting</a> and neurogenesis. Calorie restriction and fasting can not only increase synaptic plasticity and promote neuron growth but it can also decrease your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and boost cognitive function. </p><p><u>Two of the most common ways you can intermittently fast are: </u></p><ul><li>16 hours per day every day - this is a method where you are able to eat for an 8 hour period of the day and fast for 16 hours of the day. Many people begin their "fast" after dinner, pushing their morning meal far enough towards lunch that most of their "off" eating time happens while they are asleep anyways. </li></ul><ul><li>24 hours every week - this is a method where once a week you fast for an entire day. Some people prefer this method because the rest of the week can resume as normal - but for many, this is a difficult way to fast. </li></ul><p><strong>Traveling to new places</strong></p><p>While traveling is something many of us enjoy — scenic routes and new fun experiences — these things also promote neurogenesis while we're on vacation. <a href="https://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/ct-xpm-2014-01-28-sc-trav-0128-travel-mechanic-20140128-story.html" target="_blank">Paul Nussbaum</a>, a clinical neuropsychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, explains that the mental benefits of traveling are very clear.<br></p><p><em>"When you expose your brain to an environment that's novel and complex or new and difficult, the brain literally reacts. Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites (dangling extensions) which grow the brain's capacity." </em></p><p><strong>Learning a new instrument</strong></p><p>The mental health benefits of music have long been studied, but did you know that learning a new instrument can promote new neuron growth? </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996135/" target="_blank">this 2010 study</a>, learning to play a new musical instrument is an intense, multisensory motor experience that requires that acquisition and maintenance of skills over your entire lifetime - which of course, promotes the new formation of new neural networks. </p><p>When is the best time to begin learning a new instrument? Childhood, of course. </p><p><em>"Learning to play a new musical instrument in childhood can result in long-lasting changes in brain organization," </em>according to the study mentioned above. </p><p>While learning an instrument in adulthood will also promote neurogenesis, children who began training with a musical instrument before the age of 7 have shown that they have a significantly larger corpus callosum (the area of the brain the allows communication between the two hemispheres of the brain) than many adults. </p><p><strong>Reading novels</strong></p><p>A study from <a href="http://esciencecommons.blogspot.com/2013/12/a-novel-look-at-how-stories-may-change.html" target="_blank">Emory University</a> showed there was an increase in ongoing connectivity in the brains of participants after reading the same (fiction) novel. </p><p>In this study, enhanced brain activity was observed in the region that control physical sensations and movement. Reading a novel, according to lead researcher Gregory Berns, can transport you into the body of the protagonist. </p><p>This ability to shift into another mental state is a vital skill that promotes healthy neurogenesis in those areas of the brain. </p>
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.
Paul Krugman on the Virtues of Selfishness<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7ZtAkm6C" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="828936bf6953080e9018307354c0c02b"> <div id="botr_7ZtAkm6C_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7ZtAkm6C-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7ZtAkm6C-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> The Nobel Prize-winning economist on the virtues of selfishness.
Evolution Is Moving Us Away from Selfishness. But Where Is It Taking ...<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cyeqmYCb" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="6c5efecb56456e9acc25cf36935b1826"> <div id="botr_cyeqmYCb_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cyeqmYCb-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cyeqmYCb-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cyeqmYCb-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Exploring Morality and Selfishness in Modern Times<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="02eX1Cag" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="45cc6180db791f32683988fb52faff26"> <div id="botr_02eX1Cag_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/02eX1Cag-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/02eX1Cag-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> Philosopher Peter Singer discusses the state of global ethics.
Parenting could be a distraction from what mattered most to him: his writing.
Ernest Hemingway was affectionately called “Papa," but what kind of dad was he?