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The Speed of Trust – reflections upon

The lid stays on

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My son gave me a Vitamix for Christmas. 

I’ve become pretty proficient at creating interesting and sometimes compelling smooth greenies as a result.  I’ve developed quite a taste for them, in fact.

It is a formidable machine. It is to blenders what the Lexus is to cars.  Some might even say it’s what a Kirby is to vacuum cleaners.  It has never let me down and it maintains an awesome presence in my kitchen.  I use it several times a week.

But I don’t yet trust it.

You see, when I was about 6 (a long, long time ago), my father came back from the USA with an Osterizer.  Sure I’d seen milkshake machines in cafés (as we called corner stores back in the Old Country), but no-one owned their own private machine that could whip milk, sugar, food colouring and flavouring into a crazy frothy delicious drink, right in the privacy of your own home.

There was a slightly domed stainless steel lid that had a lip which fit snugly inside the top rim of the stainless steel jug, with a tiny air hole right in the middle.  After dropping all your ingredients into the jug you had to wedge the lid firmly into position before throwing the ‘on’ switch.

The most important thing I learnt from the Osterizer was about trust.  It had a propensity for popping its lid and spreading its largesse all over the kitchen.  It became a cast-in-stone rule that you had to keep your hand firmly on the lid for as long as the motor was running.

I must have made at least 10,000 hours’ worth of beverages with my hand on that machine because I am highly skilled at maintaining a firm hand on the lid of a blender – any blender. (Per Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers description of what made Bill Gates and the Beatles great – 10,000 hours of skills practice.)  On the other hand, it also means that I’ve never learnt to trust blenders.

Then, late last year I signed up for a new online health program, called WildFit (Yes, OK,  I admit: It’s the creation of the son who gave me the Vitamix and it is a great program. Trust me.)

They recommended a green smoothy they call an AlkaGizer.

I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to reduce my salads to green slush, and so resisted the pressure to acquire a blender. Then as the pressure became more than I could bear, I went to Value Village and bought one for $12. It lasted for about 4 rounds with the spinach, celery, avocado and other stuff.  The smell of burnt electrical wiring was a bit off-putting.  I went back, got another one, and another. I maintained a firm hand on all of their lids for as long as their motors worked, but still had several spills.  For example, there was the time that I stepped back, just two steps, to answer the phone. Just as I was out of reach of the lid, it released like a Frisbee.  It was ugly, what happened next, AND I learnt never to let go of the lid while the motor was running.

Keep all hands on deck

So when the Vitamix entered my life I knew where to keep my hand. Friends and relatives with Vitamixes had made me very nervous in the past by filling them up with all sorts of stuff and then letting them blend at the highest of speed and decibels while they went back to do the dishes or something, on the other side of the kitchen.   This blender goes so much faster and in a so much more determined fashion than any I’d used before.  It is seriously intimidating. And that, then, is where the speed of trust comes in.

“When things go slowly you have time to assess, judge; and test against your own beliefs.”

Building trust is like that, except that some of us are more capable of taking a giant leap into the abyss: Trust immediately, totally. Then, if it pays off, you trust both yourself and the other more deeply.  If it doesn’t pay off, the other person’s trust score crashes through the floor quite quickly. Your trust in your own judgement isn’t necessarily immediately compromised, unless over time, you are confronted with the evidence of what?  That you have poor judgement? That other people are all untrustworthy?  A little of both? And then you have to rethink your approach to trust.

Those of us who are more cautious take the Steven Covey savings account approach – each nickel of trust has to be earned, and gradually they build up in the savings account until you get to a point of trust. Then trust starts being able to build interest: Once a solid baseline trust investment has been made the speed of trust accelerates rapidly and you’re ready for great adventures together.  The risk in this approach is that sometimes the other person does something to break trust with you, or you blow the lid off yourself.  In this paradigm, because trust was so hard-earned; because it took so long to build; it is all the more painful when it breaks.   It crashes and burns.  Fury is unleashed.  The lid comes off the blender and your entire universe is besmirched with the debris of broken trust. It feels impossible to rebuild anything. It’s easier to pack up and move away.

Then I saw the speed of trust in a mediation.

I recently worked with a family who wanted to find a new way of interacting – their wounds from perpetual misunderstandings, wrong assumptions and unexpressed emotions had brought them to mediation.

In one of our conversations one person suggested adopting a rule to trust each other.   The non-verbal reaction rippled through the room like an incoming rip-tide and I had to say out loud:

“You don’t negotiate trust.

Dictating a rule that you must trust isn’t going to work.”

Trust comes in the process of negotiating.  If you’re communicating in good faith, in a respectful manner, and towards a mutually beneficial common purpose, trust will come.  I told them about the Covey bank account.  It made sense to them.  The conversation became about how to seek to understand, and about how to use empathy and feedback (verbal and bio):  They agreed to adopt a principle instead of a rule:  Reflect: “Did the person understand what I intended to communicate or did I inadvertently step on a sore toe?”

The energy in the room became electric as everyone wanted to share their ideas on how they could improve the way they’ve been with each other.  “I’m embarrassed that I never knew,” declared one participant, about the impact his rather sharp tongue had had on the others.

When mediation’s results become visible

By the time we said our goodbyes that evening I knew that the mediation was over:  I had taken my hand off the lid of the blender.  I trust that they will work things out further because they have the right ingredients to work with: love; the willingness to rebuild trust; a common purpose; personal insight and introspection; and a determination to make it work.   I am slightly nervous that they will move too quickly into the high-speed setting, but I have such faith in the process we followed that I also trust that the lid will stay on and they’ll create a great new way of sharing their lives.

I also believe that even if the lid does come off because the pressure was misjudged, and the blender spreads everything all over the kitchen of their lives, that they will use that experience to clean up and start again, at a slower setting to begin with – where trust is nurtured until it blooms.

Lao Tzu

My offer to you is this:  If you’d like to receive a few amazingly tasty recipes for smooth greenies (that area SO GOOD and GOOD FOR YOU too), then message me here.  

And, if you want to restore a relationship damaged by loss of trust, message me here. 

© Delphine du Toit 2016


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