flowing motion

What can I COUNT ON you to do?

Posted on: November 6, 2009

What can I count on?

Yes,”count on”, “depend upon”, “know that you will do as surely as the sun rises and sets”.  And you ask the same question of me.  What am I 100% committed to doing for you?  That is the foundation of our relationship.

Our relationship may be more. It will include

  • What do we do together?
  • What do we celebrate together?
  • How important is our relationship compared to other relationships?  What priority does it have?
  • How relevant is our relationship to coping with the trials and tribulations and  developing the opportunities already present?

Most people only look at the priority of a relationship.  They want total loyalty – which is unrealistic.  Blood is thicker than water, after all.  What counts is the essence.

What, what is it that I can count on you to do?

Disciplines study trust from different angles

  • Economists use game theory to look at our interests and the constraints that lead us to be quite predictable.
  • Politicians look at our interests and the alliances we make with others to pursue them.
  • Poets urge us to put “ourselves inside the river” – to pay attention to the story unfolding around us
  • Clinical psychologists measure our self-efficacy – how do we rate our competence to achieve something that seems hard
  • Educational psychologists have championed collective efficacy – how do we rate the competence of our colleagues?
  • Positive management scholars ask “what do we do well” and “what will we do more of”?
  • Toyota management specialists tell us to take our ideas and run a formal experiment – find out what matters and respect it.

Do we understand the nature of our commitment to each other?

Collective efficacy, the tool used by educational psychologists, illustrates well where I am going.  Collective efficacy  is measured by the specific question: “how good is X at his or her job?”  Questionnaires and simple ratings are neat and tidy.  Cool stuff – we get a number and the higher the number, the better the school.  Important to know and understand.

It’s also important to put our finger on the nub.  Can we describe our relationships in simple, accurate and concrete language?

  • What is it that we are totally committed to do for the people around us?  In what way are we utterly dependable to others?
  • In what way are they utterly dependable to us?
  • In what way is this, our reciprocated commitment, important to our lives?
  • And are we talking about “what is” rather than “what isn’t”?  Are we talking about the relationship as it is, rather than as we want it to be?

Do we understand the network of commitments that are important to the good life?

I’ve always felt that there are 10 or so people in my life whom I need to trust entirely.  They include my banker, my mechanic, my butcher and my baker.   When 3 or 4 are unreliable, my life becomes miserable indeed.

I am magnificently happy though when I am surrounded by people who share a mutual commitment to me.  It may be a small commitment. It may be a relatively small circle.

But that sense that we are competent, dependable and principled is very important.

(As opposed to fickle, corrupt and inept – a phrase I heard on BBC.)

Our lives are as big and as magnificent as our sense that people around us are good people.

Celebrating that goodness will boost your sense of well-being.

  • It’s worth putting our finger on the small contribution each person makes to our lives.
  • It’s worth putting a name to its essential essence – not to what we want to change – but to what will never change because it is the essence of the person and what they will do for us.
  • It’s worth hearing the words of others as they see what about us is predictable and counted upon (because they’ve observed our essence and don’t try to change us).

When we have mapped our network, or social graph, of commitments, when we begin with what is rock solid, how do we feel?  How much energy have we liberated?

I’d be interested to know how you approach these questions.  Have a great weekend.

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