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I’ve had a few trust issues lately.

They started in April of 2020, when COVID-19 entered our vocabulary. On some days it seems the world has returned to normalcy, and then a few days later it seems we are back where we started.

Can you relate?

In the last 13 years of building a business, I can’t remember a time like this. Our business is becoming a teenager, so maybe it’s appropriate to face these challenges. During the difficulties of deploying a team of 20 to a remote environment, pivoting strategy with many of our clients, and market uncertainty, I’ll admit my trust in what we built was challenged.

I was worried. And I was fearful.

I don’t think you are supposed to admit those things as a business leader, but I also think you can give me a little grace. If there was ever a time to experience those feelings, it’s been the last year and a half.

In the middle of these emotions, I’ve also found a few brave, strong moments when I chose trust.

That trust has primarily been placed in four key areas: our team, my inner circle, our foundation, and my God. These pillars have kept us moving forward despite our unprecedented challenges and helped me choose trust over fear.

My 4 Key Areas of Trust

#1: Trust in your Team

As a leader, you can’t move an organization or business forward alone. The team you build should be capable, passionate, proficient at their specific duties, and balance your weaknesses. If you’ve built a strong team and consistently practiced a healthy delegation of responsibilities, you should trust them to do their work, especially when times get tough.

One of my favorite tools from the business operation system we use (EOS), is “delegate and elevate.” It’s the consistent practice of delegating responsibilities to capable team members and helping them implement and improve the performance of the tasks. It’s the “elevate” part that’s often missed – we don’t delegate just to get it off our plate and leave it to them to figure out. We delegate, train, and empower them to do it well – that’s when they become elevated. This requires an immense amount of trust and the ability to let go. You can’t do it all.

#2: Trust In your Inner Circle

John Maxwell cuts to the chase: “those closest to you determine your level of success.” In the same book, he later quotes a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox and I think she says it even better: “the two kinds of people on earth … are the people who lift and the people who lean.” It makes perfect sense that the people we spend the most time with have the greatest impact on our outlook, attitudes, and habits.

This inner circle is important both professionally and personally – if the circle is filled with people of strong character, they will speak truth and challenge you, while also supporting and encouraging you.

#3: Trust In your Foundation

When it seems like most of what’s around you is cracking and crumbling, it’s important to trust in the foundation you’ve built. For us, that was 13 years of cultivating strong relationships with clients, building a wise team of consultants and advisors, developing core processes, and empowering our team to be part of the solution. If your foundation is secure, stand on it confidently.

Difficult times have a way of revealing the cracks and tears in your foundation. Sometimes that’s the only way to learn what needs to be improved. If you have the courage to acknowledge those cracks, and the wisdom to start repairing them, your challenges will only make you stronger.

#4: Trust In Something Greater than Yourself

For us, there’s one key area of trust that unites all the others, and it’s our faith in God. Though we work tirelessly, we ultimately believe that our success lies in the hands of our Creator. One of my favorite passages over the last year and a half has been Jeremiah 17:7-8:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

I’ll admit, the heat and the drought have come, but our God has kept us grounded and planted by the water. I realize not everyone shares a similar viewpoint, but this is a core belief at M&R and it guides our efforts.

Why this Article Matters to Me

Matthew Michael smiling and standing in front of colorful muralI get the opportunity to write an article about once a month and it can be about anything I want it to be. But today, I needed it to be about trust. And that’s because I’ve been struggling with it. Despite an amazing team, a healthy inner circle, a sturdy foundation, and faith in my Creator, I still feel inadequate at times. I feel weak as a business leader, as a husband, as a father, as a professor, and as a coach.

And I know I’m not alone in these feelings, but you don’t hear a lot about that. The narrative is focused on strength and embracing the grind, and we are encouraged to keep our insecurities and struggles to ourselves. But that’s a false narrative. We all struggle at times, and amid a season that has seen 43% of businesses temporarily closed, it’s time to open up. It’s been a tough season, and it’s ok to say so.

So maybe there’s one final key area of trust.

Let’s have enough trust in our team and our business community to be open and honest about our fears. Let’s trust in each other and rise together from the difficulties we find lying all around us.