I meant to write you a letter on integrity but kind of missed it out in my previous letters. Since integrity is so closely related to trust, I thought it would make sense to write to you about something that could be your virtue if you could build on it.
Your integrity is based on the balance in your thoughts and your actions. We often see people making tall claims about their high standards of thinking, but when you observe closely, very few of such people actually supplement their actions in sync with their thoughts. This in turn shakes the trust that they had inculcated in people by voicing thoughts that were not actually theirs but carefully crafted ones that would leave a favorable impression about them on people. As the famous quote says:
‘Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.’
It takes an instant to win or break someone’s trust but it takes a lifetime to earn integrity. Therefore, be extremely cautious on how your words and actions sync together so that you do not break anyone’s trust. It is okay to be honest without sounding great. One does not need the mask of being a great human being to prove his worth. Honesty is a much wanted virtue in today’s world. Not many people have the courage to own up their true thoughts and feelings. But people who win the trust of people around them coz they show their true self to the world without leading them on, come across as reliable. The only flip side of it could be that people who do not approve of your honest thoughts might reject the thoughts but they will still appreciate you for coming clean with them. In any case, you can never impress all the people all the time. If you attempt to do that you will end up being dishonest to them and to yourself. A people-pleaser remains so only for a brief while, because very soon his mask falls off. He can’t don so many masks at the same time and in no time people will understand that he isn’t what he shows he is.
In our youth, we have this compulsive need to be accepted by our peers. We go to great lengths to conform to their standards to fit in with them. It happens naturally as a part of growing up. But somewhere along the way we discover that we have our own likes and dislikes which need not conform to someone else’s. Being open about our individual likes and dislikes without worrying too much about how it will be accepted builds on your credibility. A transparent person is easy to trust.
As you head ahead in life there will be relationships where a give and take of trust might require extra efforts. This will be especially true for close friendships, relationships and business partners. People could trust your best intentions even when you have been open and truthful to them. This happens due to the person’s own insecurities and sometimes due to misunderstandings. It would be sensible to have an open talk in such situations to clear the air. However, certain people are distrustful of others by nature. It could be due to their own life experiences or upbringing that has caused them not to trust people easily. It is advisable to tread soft around such people without getting yourself tangled in their drama. Understand that it is their problem and stay away from situations where you could see yourself having issues with them.
When it comes to you trusting other people I believe you should give everyone a fair chance. However, always buy some time before you trust them completely. Get to know them better. Observe how they react in certain circumstances. Take non-verbal cues on deciding if the person is worthy of your trust or not. For example, if you are to strike a partnership in a new venture with someone and you meet him for the first time in a restaurant. He might appear polite and easy to work with. But if you observe how he talks to a subordinate on the phone, or how he keeps calculating the check that comes in after you’ve had your meal, over and over again, you would definitely get an idea on the side of personality he prefers not to show but unwittingly gives away hoping that you have not noticed it.
Do you remember the times I have met some of your friends and have made judgements about them even without talking to them? Sometimes I have been pretty on the mark on my observations about them which you yourself have confirmed. Well, so these observations come from years of practice. Some tried and tested and some in process. As a visual merchandiser, when I had to interview a candidate for my team, during the course of the interview I would casually skim my eyes on their finger and toenails. The way the nails were maintained was a clear give away on how truthful the candidate was, since visual merchandising is all about presentation. The crux of it is, if a person cannot present himself in a right manner, even if it means not addressing finer details, he definitely could not help me set up my stores in an organised manner. No matter how smooth he talks, it might not match his action when he gets on job if he’s so sloppy with presenting himself!
So, there you go. Winning trust is as important as placing trust in people. Hold on tight to the ones who have proved their trust to you and trust you in equal measure. They are difficult to come by. Some day I hope to know from people, that my son is someone they trust with all their heart due to the integrity that he has carefully carved for himself. You know already that I have complete trust in you, my son. Wish you all the best.