“Tough people fight fire with fire. Wise people fight fire with water.” Former Marine and FBI counterintelligence expert Robin Dreeke wrote the book on human behavior. He taught social psychology and in the practical application of the science of relationship development for the FBI, and eventually rose to direct the behavioral analysis program for the agency.
After his retirement, he crafted a book to help everyone learn how to build a culture of trust. The Code of Trust is a book about how you can equals break down barriers, build bridges, and make connections – the steps to developing real relationships and becoming a better leader.
In a recent post, I wrote that the way to build trust is to trust first, without expectation. Trust for its own sake. Trust because it’s the right thing to do, the way you want the world to work. Trust even if your past relationships have taught you that trust gets you hurt. Don’t let the fear of being hurt again rule your behavior. Dreeke writes, “Fear has a wonderful memory, and it can enable people to stay frozen forever.”
The road from fear to trust is different for all of us, and it’s never easy. “To reach the level of trust that leadership demands,” Dreeke writes, “you’ll need to replace the once-protective fears from your worst days with new memories: positive, rewarding moments of ego subordination, nonjudgmental acceptance, validation, generosity, and rationality. These are the trusting—and trust-inspiring—memories that take us to a state of mind that is most simply described as love.”
When you’re able to deal with the world from a position of trust, the world around you becomes a different place. You’ve changed, so what you perceive – and receive – changes as well. Dreeke writes, “The Code of Trust is simply will not accommodate your participation in—and perpetuation of—a toxic, destructive environment. It not only enables you—but compels you—to shield yourself from the unhealthy aspects of your environment, or to fix them, or to escape them.”
And once you’ve escaped the toxic environment, he writes, “you’re free to create a world that reflects the better angels of your nature, populated by positive people who will make you feel rich not just in friendship and support, but—better yet—in expanded opportunities to help those within your circle of trust.”
He writes, “Tough, shrewd people often doubt that such a world even exists—except in the movies—because they think that the so-called real world is an unforgiving, fickle realm, dominated by the traumatized and hardened survivors who cling to the deep-seated, antisocial urges of self-interest, manipulation, greed, and vanity.”
You can choose the world you want to live in, even if you start from a place of trauma and broken trust. To paraphrase an old saying about confidence, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way, you’re right.”