Forget critical thinking, let's start with trust

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 8:42 PM | comments: 0

In what has been a brutal election year (yes, we've been in the process of electing a president for over a year), people have taken sides, drawn false moral equivalencies, and many simply don't care what is real and what is convenient to believe. Critical thinking has gone out the window in favor of protecting minds with what is comfortable. That's why people can back a fascist autocrat who lies everyday. Well, it's one reason, anyway.

When I think about what has made people successful in a broad sense, and I define that loosely as "contributing to a larger effort in a way that is moral and rewarding," one of the most consistent themes that I've seen is that the level of trust is extraordinarily high when it comes to the leadership in that situation. It's not the only attribute that contributes to success, but it is almost always there.

I can apply this to every situation in my life. My role as a father begins with trust. My best seasons as a volleyball coach came when I earned the trust of my kids. My highest performing work teams were led by trustworthy leaders. The best companies I've worked for instilled trust from the top down. The best local elected officials I've worked with could be trusted. I have to trust doctors, electricians and food servers. I have to trust in scientists and the scientific method. I even have to trust other drivers on the road, even though they rarely deserve that trust (especially in Florida).

That's a lot of people to trust, and it's true that sometimes people don't get it right. I think that for the most part though, people try. Maybe that sounds naively optimistic in this year in particular. My therapist would likely tell you that I give trust too freely.

Trust should be the fundamental issue in this election. Trump lies so much, out loud, that the sheer volume and density of the lies makes it almost impossible to track. This isn't my opinion, this is objectively true, with verifiable information. His party affiliation has nothing to do with it. If you had someone like this on your payroll, you would fire them. And sure, you can make the assertion that "all politicians lie," but that's the kind of false moral equivalence that puts you well into the camp of anti-critical thinking. This too, can be objectively measured, in the same way that you can verify a sub sandwich is 12 inches long, or the depth of your pool is six feet. Just because someone doesn't play on your team doesn't make them untrustworthy.

I'll be the first to say that I'm incredibly disappointed that Joe Biden is the bar we've set for such an important job, because he's another ancient mediocre white guy (seriously, he's older than the current age of the last three presidents!). What I can say about him though is that he has a track record of surrounding himself with capable people and deferring to their expertise. In other words, he can trust others to do the things that he is not qualified to do, or can't make the time to do. That's the essence of leadership, regardless of policy.

Trust is the essence of successful leadership.


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