‘The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." Ernest Hemingway

Sep 19

Written by:
19 September 2018 13:01  RssIcon

By Honor Wilson-Fletcher, British Exploring Society CEO

Why do we trust some people more than others?
How do you feel about someone who says they will do something and then they don’t?
Sometimes this is just disappointing, and on other occasions, it is stressful and even frightening.
Do you mean what you say?
Do you do what you say you will do?
How do you feel when someone lets you down?
Do you ask yourself why?
Why wouldn’t someone do what they say they are going to do?

The reasons for this might be complicated – not just about having too much to do. It might involve long experience of coercion, or a fear of being judged.
At British Exploring Society trust is central to our work and to the expedition programmes we run. It’s a very special gift from the volunteers and other professionals we work with. We depend on the people around us doing what they say they are going to do. We rely on integrity and the reliability of our volunteers and partner organisations. It’s a liberating, enabling environment to work in – but it’s also critical to our success as a youth development organisation interested in preparing young people for positive adult lives.

If you’ve been let down again and again, you trust people less and less willingly. You may find it tough to choose friends well, or to make positive connections which need trust to flourish.

We are asking young people to push themselves and take on significant personal challenges. Why would they consider doing that with people who aren’t completely dependable, or who don’t keep their word?

For us, doing what we say we will do isn’t just matter of organisational or personal integrity. We cannot gain the trust of the young people we work with if we don’t.

“I think the support was great and I knew there was always someone I could speak to whenever I needed help throughout the whole process of signing up for the expedition and the expedition itself.” Young Explorer, British Exploring Society Yukon 2018

We don’t feel good when we let others down. People who aren’t reliable are saying something about how they value themselves as much as how they value others. Developing trust and becoming reliable can give us agency and strength and the respect of others. We would like to help the young people we work with overcome any fears they may have which can get in the way of them being seen as trustworthy - so that when they say yes they are always able to mean yes - and no when they mean no. We feel good when we behave in ways that we value and like in ourselves. Others are less likely to take advantage of us, and are more likely to reflect back positive behaviours that we like and find positive. It’s a powerful thing.

‘Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware." David Armistead

Our expedition leaders ably model reliability and trustworthiness. Our Young Explorer feedback about them is rarely less than ecstatic. Our participants develop reflective, supportive relationships which liberate them to challenge themselves and discover incredible personal capacity within themselves. I don’t think it’s any accident that in the last 50 years, over 50% of our alumni have gone on to work in some form of public service, as well as becoming volunteers in a whole variety of sectors. Trust fosters generosity as well as awesome abilities.

‘The people when rightly and fully trusted will return the trust." Abraham Lincoln

<October 2019>