It happened some years ago but it was an adventure I’ll never forget. I was exploring a rugged and remote part of my province. My trusty truck was pulling hard in the steep terrain, and my fuel supply was dwindling.
My map showed me an alternate route that would get me back to civilization (and fuel) much sooner than going back the way I came. It meant crossing a fairly large river, but the map showed a bridge – so no problem, right?
It was almost nightfall when I got to the river. Guess what – the road led right onto a timber railway bridge!
I felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My heart rate went up a notch.
This required some “thinking about it.”
Pulling aside, I made myself a cup of tea. Somehow that helped.
Looking more closely, the rails had 2×6 planks installed on either side to accommodate vehicle traffic should anyone be nutty enough to attempt a crossing.
I started “walking the plank” on either side of the rail to check if it was sturdy enough. It seemed to be.
There’s no turning around or backing up with the truck, camper and loaded trailer on that narrow plank. Not an option.
There were no guardrails. The slightest deviance from the plank could tip the whole rig into the swift flowing waters.
My next thought was, “What if an oncoming train happens?”
Somewhere in a Western movie, some guy would always put their ear on the track to determine an oncoming train.
It worked in the movies, so I decided to try it. Nothing to be heard.
Taking a deep breath, I started the engine, aligned with the track, and started slowly and carefully inching across.
It was the longest twelve minutes of my life, my heart thumping every moment of the way.
In retrospect, as sketchy as it was, I had to trust that the bridge would get me from here to there.
I had to trust my driving skills to not go off the rails.
I had to accept a reasonable risk of no oncoming train.
Trust is the cornerstone for building relationships and running our businesses.
It’s like a bridge, connecting us to others, facilitating communication and collaboration, and strengthening our bond.
It allows us to traverse the otherwise vast chasm of unfamiliarity, misunderstanding, and insecurity.
Just like many types of physical bridges get us from here to there, types of Trust can be viewed on a continuum.
At the one end there’s a tightrope which only allows fragile, one-way traffic. This might represent a relationship or business venture just beginning to build Trust. Next would be suspension bridge, or a hastily erected Bailey bridge over a washout and so on.
At the far end, a substantial, four-lane bridge accommodates high-speed, multi-directional traffic.
This could symbolize a well-established relationship or a successful business partnership where Trust is deeply ingrained and mutual.
Here are a few examples.
The Fragile Tightrope: Picture a trust bridge resembling a tightrope, swaying precariously with each step. This delicate construction permits only one-way traffic, making it essential to tread carefully. In relationships where Trust is fragile, any misstep or breach can easily send the participant tumbling down. It’s like walking on eggshells, constantly second-guessing intentions and actions. This kind of trust bridge limits openness and can create an atmosphere of suspicion.
The Swinging Suspension Bridge: Moving along the trust bridge continuum, we encounter a swinging suspension bridge. This structure allows for limited two-way traffic, enabling communication and interaction. Although the bridge may sway with the winds of doubt or uncertainty, Trust remains intact, albeit with some wobbles. It requires continuous efforts to maintain balance and address concerns promptly.
The Substantial Highway: This is the trust bridge at its strongest—a steel and concrete four-lane highway built to withstand the tests of time and traffic. This bridge enables fast and reliable connections, fostering openness, collaboration, and mutual respect. Trust on this scale allows for smooth two-way traffic, ensuring effective communication and meaningful relationships.
When the Trust Bridge Becomes Blocked, Compromised, or Broken: Just as real bridges can encounter roadblocks, detours, or even collapse, trust bridges also face challenges. When Trust becomes blocked, it obstructs the flow of communication and understanding. Misunderstandings, unfulfilled promises, and hidden agendas can lead to a traffic jam of emotions.
When a Bridge Collapses: The immediate feeling is denial and disbelief. You’re caught off-guard, especially if the bridge had appeared solid and sturdy. You may stand incredulous on one side of the chasm, wondering how such a sturdy structure could fall so unexpectedly.
Anger soon follows, kindled by the hurt of betrayal and fanned by resentment towards the person who let you down and perhaps even towards yourself for not seeing the signs.
The broken bridge also leads to anxiety, as you’re stranded, unable to reach the other side, unsure how to rebuild or find another way. Thoughts of lashing out might bubble up, but they only lead to more destruction and less resolution.
Financial damage might occur, especially if the trust bridge was between business partners or in a marital relationship where finances were intertwined.
Moreover, the stress caused by a betrayal of Trust can manifest as physiological symptoms such as loss of sleep or appetite. In some cases, individuals may even resort to thoughts of self-harm or harming others, showing the severity of the psychological impact of broken Trust.
In its aftermath, a bridge that once stood firm may be left in ruins. Moreover, the relationship might be terminated, as rebuilding a fallen bridge takes more energy and resources than building a new one.
The effects of this broken Trust may spill over into other relationships, contaminating them.
As a result, you might start questioning other bridges, even those that are well-built and sturdy, casting doubts on their stability.
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen R. Covey
To mitigate these adverse effects, it is crucial to diligently maintain our bridges of Trust. Frequent checks and balances, open communication, and mutual respect are the pillars that uphold these bridges.
Friedrich Nietzsche once said:
“I’m not upset that you lied to me; I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
Therefore, let’s work to keep our bridges strong because they are not quickly rebuilt once broken.
However, even when a trust bridge breaks, it’s essential to remember that it’s not the end of the road.
It’s a lesson, a warning sign that helps us build stronger, more resilient bridges in the future.
“We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” Isaac Newton
So, let’s focus on building bridges of Trust, nurturing and maintaining them because, ultimately, these bridges connect us.
Without them, we are but islands in a vast sea.
Until Next Time.
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