Several years ago I got involved with a committee.
I was part of a small alumni chapter, and there were about ten of us who took the reins that year. Although I didn’t last very long, I did enjoy our early sense of camaraderie and shared mission.
There was a little blossoming of community that was nice. So we decided that instead of making our meetings just about business, we would try for a social connection too.
We decided to have potlucks.
I’ll never forget the conversation I had with another committee member before the first potluck. I offered to bring pizza; he offered to bring something too, although I can’t remember what.
And then he suggested, “We’ll need to contact everyone and assign dishes, so we’ll know what to expect.”
Right away I figured that was likely to be both time-consuming and a lot of undue pressure. We were volunteers, after all, with busy lives. I sure didn’t have time to coordinate a potluck, and I suspected that most of us would rather improvise this one.
So I countered, “How about if we make it a real potluck, luck being the operative word, and simply take what we get?”
Just then the conversation unexpectedly turned. To coke.
My committee friend was silent for a moment. Finally he responded, “But what if everyone brings Coke?”
I laughed a little, not at him but at the image of ten people walking in the door, arms laden with big bottles of Coke.
And then I said, “Well, I doubt that would happen. But if it does, I guess we’ll drink a lot of Coke with our pizza. Or water. I think we could handle it.”
Without skipping a beat, he concluded, “I couldn’t handle that.”
That turned out to be our first and last potluck.
I still recall this story from time to time. Initially, I thought it was about control. Being in control every minute, and knowing with certainty the outcome.
As the years have passed, however, I’ve realized it’s more than that.
It’s a story about trust.
My friend on the committee couldn’t trust the rest of us. He couldn’t trust that we would figure it out for ourselves. But mostly, he couldn’t trust himself to deal with whatever happened, good or bad.
Which brings me to a question I’ve been pondering.
Where does trust start?
Clients often tell me that they place a very high value on trust. But time and again I’ve noticed they’re looking for that trust to start out there. As in, “people must earn my trust.”
So they sit, waiting for proof that their trust has been earned. Facing constant disappointment, because, well, human beings are imperfect. Eventually finding themselves caught in a downward spiral. Holding back trust from others. Then holding it back from themselves. Until finally, they’re holding back trust from life itself.
All the while forgetting that you’ve got to give a little to get a little.
Maybe this happens because we equate trust with naiveté. Certainly, as small children we don’t know any better than to trust unequivocally. So we get hurt. And we learn. We grow cautious. We move past that first blush of simple, innocent trust.
But there is another kind of trust. Mature. In-your-bones.
A primal wisdom that tells us that trust starts right here, and even though life and people will hurt us, and we will be disillusioned, we can nevertheless choose to open ourselves to trust.
We can choose to trust ourselves.
We can choose to trust others.
We can choose to trust life.
We can even choose to trust when things look bleak.
Looking back, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to say that to my friend. I have a feeling that too much coke was indeed a bleak prospect for him, a proverbial worst-case scenario. I mean, we all have our quirks, right?
- So now I’m curious. Where do you stand on the trust dilemma?
- Does trust start inside of you?
- Or does it start somewhere else?
- And what’s your favorite dish to bring to a potluck?