On The Road to Honesty

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Children are our future.

The more we teach and mentor them, the better our communities become. Honesty is a value we must all strive to posses and exercise.  Often it is taught to children as an afterthought, or only when the child has shown dishonesty. There is a better way.

Thierry Koehrlen’s united effort to effectively teach honesty to children through the On The Road to Honesty campaign is a great place to go for resources that help us teach children in a fun, exciting, and empowering way.  In an effort to help promote the value of teaching honesty this article deconstructs the ability to build trust – a by-product of honesty.


Relationship quality is measured by the level of trust attained.

One determinant of success is the quality of our relationships, or the ability to build trust.

“Again and again, we see both individuals and organizations perform only to a small degree of their potential success, or fail entirely, simply because of their neglect of the human element in business and life.” – John C. Maxwell

Leaders who build trust are leaders who succeed.

Relationships built on trust are the foundation of success. No one has succeeded on an island. Stephen M.R. Covey teaches that there are two types of trust: Character (your integrity) and Competence (the ability and willingness to produce)

“Trust in others comes not only from being truthful but also from the extent you reliably do what you say you will do.” Stephen M.R. Covey

Leaders who inspire, build, motivate, and ultimately succeed are leaders who are able to develop and maintain both types of trust in their professional and personal relationships.

Some trust is instantaneous, while other trust must be earned over time.

Recently I took a helicopter ride while working on a project in Brazil. As soon as we arrived at the helipad I saw the pilot with his uniform, stripes, and various symbols that signified his competence. Instantly I believed that he had the ability and qualifications to fly the machine safely. The same is usually true when we visit a doctor or attend a university lecture. Credentials can build trust. Especially trust in competence.

In business though, credentials often mean very little. Building trust with individuals and teams comes down to our ability to navigate complex social situations. While the circumstances may vary, the process of building lasting trust is very simple to learn and apply.

The process for building trust is:

  1. Always Listen First (Curiosity, Concern & Care)
  2. Always Speak About People as If They Can Hear You
  3. Always Do Exactly What You Promised, then Do More

The first two steps in the process build your “character trust” and the final step builds your “competence trust”.

Always Listening First allows us to learn and understand. And more important, those people we are building relationships will feel our genuine care. Emotions control relationships. Listening gives other people the chance to express themselves; this opens the door to connection and long-term positive associations. By listening you show concern while learning what types of actions and behaviors will best allow this relationship to succeed.

Always Speaking About People as If They Were Present does not necessarily build trust, but doing the opposite is the fastest destroyer of trust. Lying and cheating is wrong – you might or might not get caught. But, whomever you talk to will know how you talk about others. They will not want to be talked about when they are gone and therefore will not trust you. Be the type of person you want to be friends with.

Always Doing Exactly What We Promised, and Then Doing More shows we have integrity, we are honest, and just as important – that we are competent. Getting the job done is what makes the world go round. If you promise a phone call, make the call. If you promise an email, send the email

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. If you promise a trip to the swimming pool, go to the pool! (Practice with your family – the ones closest to you are often the hardest ones to keep promises to.)

No matter how honest we are, if we do not produce something, we do not add value. There are many things we can produce – if our role is a high school teacher our product then is how well we teach, educate, and inspire the youth. If our role is as an accountant, our accuracy and insights we produce become our product. Everyone in some form or another has value to contribute. Everyone can create and produce. Competence comes from the skill, ability, and willingness to produce the best possible product.We trust people who constantly perform. First do what you say you will, then wow them and do more.

To conclude, following the simplified three things we must “ALWAYS” do will put us in situations to constantly be building trust. Trusted relationships take time to build, are easy to loose and nearly impossible to regain.

Earning trust once is hard, earning it twice next to impossible. Work hard at building trust; treat trust building like a profession.

For further study I recommend these 3 books:

  1. The Decision to Trust: How Leaders Create High-Trust Organizations – Robert F. Hurley
  2. The Speed of Trust – Stephen M.R. Covey
  3. Winning With People – John C. Maxwell

If you are parent, professional, educator, or mentor please consider the benefits of teaching honesty in a proactive method to those youth you have the opportunity to interact with. A great tool and method is the On The Road to Honesty campaign.