Something I am learning about myself is that I trust easily upfront, but then fear abandonment and betrayal in certain circumstances, which leads me to plan escape routes from the potential to be wounded.

No one truly enjoys being vulnerable, and I would be no exception. I don’t mind being transparent, in fact I value transparency as a component of authenticity, but vulnerability can be a fear-full thing.

I find myself vulnerable when I have to take responsibility for a mistake I made where others have to pay for it in some way. As I reflect on my thoughts and feelings in these circumstances I discover a fear of rejection hiding under the surface. I am upset with myself for making a mistake. I am embarrassed that I have done so, and feel incompetent and broken. I may look for something to blame my mistake on, or maybe even some one – holding myself accountable for a mistake is not an easy thing. It requires that I sit with the mistake and own it fully, without deferring responsibility to anything or anyone. When I do this I feel the full weight of the matter in the silence that follows as others try to process. It is uncomfortable to wait while others process – like an accused on trial waiting fir a jury deliberate over a verdict.

Patrick Lencioni suggests that “…teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability…if we don’t trust one another, then we aren’t going to engage in open, constructive, ideological conflict.”

When a team is working within a mission, mistakes can be costly, and as such they are frustrating to the all within the team. It does not matter who made the mistake, progress has been hindered. As I write this, I note that it would be easier to extend grace to someone else on the team for a mistake that they made than for me to find the grace within me for one that I made. I believe that the difference reflects my ability to trust the others on my team to forgive me for the mistake I made. If I can trust that we will all stay issue focussed and work to make something better of the mistake, then I begin to sense a freedom from judgment and condemnation, which enables me to reengage.

Simon Sinek suggests that “trust and cooperation are not instructions – they are feelings”. I enjoy much of what Sinek offers as leadership perspective, but on this point I disagree. Trust is not a feeling, but rather a decision. We may make the decision based on how we feel, but we decide whether or not we will trust.

It is difficult to chose to trust when we are fearful, but there is no way for a team to move forward without each member making the decision to trust. Each member must be willing to own their responsibility for mistakes that they have made, and the team must be a safe place for them to do so. Teams may not start out naturally trusting, but it must be a deliberate practice to own mistakes, to extend grace and to decide to trust.

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of
every virtue at the testing point.”

C.S. Lewis

No member of the team has to take responsibility for all of any mistake/issue – just 100% of their part – to make the decision to trust and let the chips fall as they may. Resilience necessitates that we decide to trust, to stay engaged and to work toward making better mistakes tomorrow.