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Working as an independent contractor has underscored important lessons I have learned about trust. For years I worked as a freelance boat captain, teaching classes, captaining charters, and doing new-owner training through yacht brokers. Keeping commitments, showing up on time and delivering professional services were key elements to helping me grow my business. A yacht broker who was a good client told me of a captain he would never work with again because the captain missed ONE appointment. It can take a lot to build trust, and it can be lost in a moment.

What is trust?

Trust — The expectation of safety or a good outcome.

We are wired for survival! Our brains are always evaluating the expected outcomes and safety from the situations we are in. This evaluation occurs in our amygdala, a part of our brain associated with emotional responses. A feeling of safety and trust corresponds to a release of the hormone oxytocin, while feelings of distrust or danger correspond to releases of cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline.

When trust is present we tend to advance, explore, show vulnerability, and take risks. When trust is missing we tend to withdraw and become defensive. These responses have huge consequences for our effectiveness, in what Stephen M. R. Covey calls Trust Dividends and Trust Taxes.

Have you ever thought about the time and money we spend trying to ensure trust? Here are some examples to get you started:


  • Antivirus software

  • Weapons for personal defense

  • Our military and the taxes to support it

  • Prenuptial agreements

  • Many of our legal agreements and laws

  • The police

  • Product reviews

  • Much of our conversation

Imagine a world with widespread trust and how enjoyable and efficient that would be! While it may seem like unrealistic idealism, we can choose to be intentional about who we associate with, bringing higher trust into our personal spaces and sending strong messages about what is acceptable.

If you start thinking seriously about trust you may discover that it is one of the most important considerations in our lives!

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