Trust yourself so others will trust you.

“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

Fred Rogers

In my previous article, ‘The essential leadership skill that often gets overlooked’ , I discussed the concept of developing trust within an organisation in terms of sharing information, resources and decision-making responsibilities.

I’d like to look at the concept of trust further and reflect on how our level of self-trust affects our success in life and affects those around us.

What does self-trust mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines trust as the ‘assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something’. On that basis, self-trust is our reliance on our own character, ability, strength, and truth.

When we trust in our own ability, we are confident that we have the skills, knowledge and experience to handle various tasks well. We know we can do things like drive a car or cook a meal because we’ve learned how to do it, we’ve practiced and we’ve done it many times successfully.

Trust in our strength can mean in our physical ability but it can also mean emotional strength such as courage, grit, and resilience. This kind of self-trust helps us to persevere in difficult situations and commit to goals.

Trust in our personal truth means that we trust in our own honesty, integrity and values. This is the kind of trust that inspires people to follow and respect great leaders.

Trust in our own character is perhaps the most important kind of self-trust as it incorporates all the above factors and forms the basis of our self-esteem.

Why is self-esteem important?

 “Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on.”

Maxwell Maltz

Our level of self-esteem determines how we respond to uncertainty and change.

When we have no confidence in ourselves, we have difficulty making decisions and see ourselves as powerless. We ignore our own instincts and tend to defer to others as we believe they know more than us or are more capable of handling things effectively.

But here’s the problem. If you don’t trust yourself, you can’t move forward. You end up stuck in bad relationships or a dead-end job. You won’t get promoted as people won’t trust those who don’t trust themselves.

In all great teams, each team member needs to trust in themselves and their own abilities as doubt can be contagious and can quickly sabotage any common goal.

Trust in the team

Early explorers took great care in selecting people to join their expeditions. They needed to be sure they could trust each person to pull their weight, stay calm under pressure, and get things done.

Space exploration also relies on every member of the space and ground crew being trustworthy in every way. The Apollo 13 mission to the moon in 1970 is an excellent example of the importance of trusting your team. After a series of equipment failures resulting in the loss of onboard power and oxygen, the mission had to be aborted and the priority shifted to getting the three crew members back to Earth alive.

Together the crew overcame challenge after challenge, including the ground crew having to rapidly design a piece of equipment that the astronauts could make using the supplies they had on board. They did so using only plastic bags, cardboard, parts of a spacesuit and a lot of duct tape! Remarkably, the team managed to guide the module back to Earth and the crew survived!

Technology, communications and logistics expert, Michelle Melbourne, knows all about being a pioneer and about the value of having a trustworthy team in times of uncertainty. In her podcast interview on The Mentor List, Michelle shares her thoughts on how great teams make great companies. She says she trusts her team ‘to the moon and back!’

Michelle’s advice to others, especially leaders of a start-up business, is to be comfortable with uncertainty and trust in your team.

“You need to be able to trust in your own ability and the ability of your team in an environment which can be unpredictable and which moves rapidly. You need to know that regardless of the challenges that arise, your team will get you to the end goal.”

Each of us can learn to apply the same principals to our own situations and build trust within ourselves.

Tips for improving your self-esteem

  • Focus on your achievements, not your failures. The more successes you have, the more confident you become.
  • Change your self-talk. Pay attention to your inner voice and swap negative thoughts about yourself for constructive, positive ones.
  • Stop overthinking. Overanalysing every situation increases your stress levels and stops you from reaching your full potential.
  • Learn to take calculated risks and trust your gut instincts as they are often right.
  • Learn how to cope well with change. Change can be frightening, especially if it is sudden, but it is possible to develop skills to manage change and even to embrace it. When you stretch your comfort zone and master new things, you’ll boost your self-esteem too.
  • Write your own Unique Value Proposition (UVP). List the things that make you stand out from the crowd. Not only will this help you when applying for a new position of any sort, it will also show you just how unique and special you really are.
  • Look after your physical health. When you exercise regularly and eat well, you’ll gain more energy and boost your brain power at the same time. When you feel good, you naturally start to feel more confident within yourself.

Just as doubt is contagious, so is positive energy. When you trust in yourself you create a positive forcefield around you that is impossible for others to ignore. Put a group of people together who have positive self-esteem and there is no limit to what they can achieve.

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Michelle Melbourne is a Co-Founder and Executive Director at Intelledox - a Canberra-based global software vendor that enables the digitalisation of complex business processes. Michelle has worked on innovative technology transformation projects in countries all around the world.

Michelle is a past winner in the Telstra and ACT Government’s Businesswoman of the Year Awards, and her business Intelledox is a multiple winner in the Telstra Business Awards plus many other top industry awards. She is a perfect example of someone who is comfortable with her own ability to handle complex situations and to bring people together to achieve great things.

In her interview on The Mentor List, Michelle shares her story along with many tips on how to navigate change both personally and in business. If your instincts are telling you that you need to listen to Michelle’s interview, trust them. They’re right!

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List.

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