The Trust Bank

I used to teach all of my employees the concept of a Trust Bank. A Trust Bank is just like an institution that holds your money, and you can make deposits and withdraws in a variety of ways. The goal is to keep your Trust Account full at all times, and you do so by making regular deposits.

The first bank account I opened was with Harris Bank in Woodridge, IL. I was seven. I got a toaster for opening a new account (this was in the day when a broken toaster warranted a trip to a repair shop instead of a discount outlet. Any appliance that broke, even something like a toaster, could be repaired much more cheaply than it could be replaced).

Anyway, I put my money in my account. So we’re clear: the money was MINE, the bank merely held it for me. However, it wasn’t easy to do anything with that money. First, the bank was located across a busy road, 75th Street, and when I ran across the highway I became the frog in a large-scale game of Frogger. Second, the bank had short hours, and I couldn’t always get to the bank when I needed cash. Finally, every transaction involved filling out a deposit or withdraw slip, and the only signature that unlocked MY money was a co-signature from my mom or dad’s. Curses!

As I got older, though, these limitations disappeared. Instead of running across the street, I drove. Instead of hoping to catch the bank open, I hit the ATM or used on-line banking. And I’m finally old enough to sign my own slips without needing permission from my parents to touch my money.

This is how the Trust Bank works, too. Think back to when you were a child. You were under constant supervision from an adult, likely a parent or two. You could make deposits and withdraws in your Trust Fund by either doing what you said you’d do (a deposit), or by not living up to your word (a withdraw). And when you were a child, every trust transaction could be confirmed with direct line-of-sight.

“Did you have a dry night, buddy?” a dad asks his toddler in the morning.

“Yeppers!” his boy nods with a smile.

Dad does a quick check and finds that his son is completely dry.

“Nice job, buddy!”

Or…

Dad does a quick check and finds the boy, his undies and his bed soaked.

“Um, let’s talk about what the word dry means…”

As the boy grows up, he has more opportunities to make Trust Bank deposits and withdraws, many of them remotely. He now has a phone, email, the ability to text. He can tell truths and lies without having to show up. If he makes enough deposits in his Trust Bank, he will seen and respected as a man of truth.

Here’s the catch: Trust is built and maintained with a lifetime of deposits. Truth truth truth truth truth truth. I might be able to guess that the next word in the series is going to be truth again, because the pattern has been firmly established. But if your pattern is truth truth truth truth lie truth, you can understand how that one withdraw called a LIE cashed in your Trust Fund.

Trust is built and maintained with a lifetime of deposits in truthfulness; trust is cashed out, the balance depleted, with one large withdraw. And then, you must begin building your account again…not with a zero balance, but from a starting position of debt. Get overdrawn too many times, you’ll find that you have zero credit. Not even a dog will wag its tail around you.

What’s in your Trust Bank? Are you known for the predictability of your deposits? Or are you known for making sudden, steep withdraws that make you untrustworthy to others?

0 Comments Add yours

  1. Ara Karlberg says:

    As usual, great job, Scott. I suppose the little so-called white lies we tell count too? You know the ones…you look great in those pants, love your new doo, etc. I’m good at basic truth telling, it’s the little stuff like I mentioned above that get’s me. I don’t want to be the one to say “Sue your stylist, he stinks” or those pants make you look like…If it is someone close to me I can do that, but not anyone less than really close. What’s your take on this type of lying?

    Best to you,
    Ara

    1. scottcarbonara says:

      I knew this guy with a sense of pathological honesty coupled with a strong belief that all babies were hideous, all looking like short Winston Churchill’s minus the cigar. But once he became convinced that his truthfulness (opinion) could be hurtful, he learned a new phrase when someone thrust a “young Churchill” under his nose. “Now that’s a baby!” he’d exclaim.

      So the person with the clown pants or the hair-don’t, this might be a good time for silence. And if your opinion is asked, you can truthfully reply, “I’m not sure that I would feel comfortable wearing those pants/that do.” A lot of the temptation to tell white lies stems from our desire to say something positive even when it isn’t merited.

      The Trust Bank matters most when you have (and desire to maintain) a relationship. How many times does an employee, spouse, or child need to lie to us before becoming overdrawn? Depending on the size of the withdraw, just once before you’re starting over.

  2. Laurence Pallez says:

    Interestingly, this reminded me of something that happened to me last year…

    One of my friends (at the time) decided, out of the blue, to confess to me that he had been feeding me “little white lies” for the whole time we had known each other.
    His take on this was that he had only done it to spare my feelings and avoid that I’d be disappointed in him, and therefore I should not be mad at him for doing it.

    I have no idea why he decided to tell me this, because truthfully, I would never have been able to find out he had lied to me on my own…

    I gave him credit for coming clean (although a little late), but what this knowledge did to me was beyond “fixable”.

    After that, every time he would give me an excuse for not being able to fulfill a previously agreed upon commitment, I could not help but wonder if he was lying to me again. Maybe he was… Maybe he wasn’t. The point was that I was never going to be sure again…
    It ruined the friendship.
    His lying (as inconsequent as it might have seemed) had created insecurity, and a total lack of trust me, and I had not been able to get passed it.

    In hindsight, he realized he would have done less damage if he had told the truth in the first place.
    It was too late for our friendship, but hopefully it had given him enough background that he would make better choices next time…

    Another great blog, Scott.
    You have an amazing way to bring up “challenges” we all have to deal with at some point in our lives, and give us a chance to face them straight on, and eventually learn and grow from them.
    Such a beautiful gift you have.
    Thank you.

  3. scottcarbonara says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Laurence. Kudos to your friend for telling the truth eventually, but so much better to live the truth perpetually. And from a purely practical point of view, the older we get, the less ability we have to keep a lie straight even if we wanted to. So why bother? LOL

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