Build Trust From the Foundation Up

Building Trust By Design

Pat’s story…

This past Memorial Day at our family picnic, neighbor Pat Pannone shared a story. An architect who often gives away his professional expertise as a volunteer on projects, Pat at times is asked by fellow volunteers to do architectural work for them. About a year ago, one of them invited Pat to design a home renovation. It was a big job. The main reason for the renovation was to build a master suite. Pat was excited. A job this size was something he enjoyed doing, and the fees would more than address some expenses that came with his newborn son.

Pat looked at the house and asked to see the attic. It had a large vaulted ceiling and was used for storage. He said he’d be happy to design what they wanted, but, perhaps they should consider having the attic converted into the master suite, and save themselves a lot of money. He suggested that they move their bedroom furniture there for a couple of weeks just to test it out.

The result – they loved it. No need for major work. No need for an architect. No fee for Pat. I asked what he thought about that. His response? He felt great about it! He could have done what the client originally asked and designed the addition. Instead, he was creative and thoughtful.

How Fear Chases Out Creativity

Some people are afraid of losing fees, especially when the fee will put food on the table. Pat had other work, so maybe fear is too strong a word. But he definitely wanted that new project. Letting go of that desire for the sake of the client is a great example of low self-orientation.

Wally Bock’s blog “Drive out Fear” talks about fear from a team perspective. He says: “When people are scared, what they think about is what they’re scared of. While they’re doing that, they can’t think of other things, like how to do a better job…”

If Pat had been worried about making sure he got that fee, he might not have seen the easy, low cost solution for his client.

Putting the Client First Pays Off

Pat smiled when he finished telling us about the big job that got away. The story wasn’t over, he said. 4-5 months later, that same couple called him again. This time, they were buying a new property, and needed an architect for a job that would not be solved by moving furniture into an existing room. And they wanted Pat because they knew he would put them first.

How about you? Have you met people like Pat? Have you ever managed to set aside your own fear and unleash your creative energy?

3 replies
  1. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    Feat and creativity:

    I think this is a crucial point:

    “Some people are afraid of losing fees, especially when the fee will put food on the table. Pat had other work, so maybe fear is too strong a word. But he definitely wanted that new project. Letting go of that desire for the sake of the client is a great example of low self-orientation.” (Stewart)

    The Buddhists would say this is letting go of attachments – the major cause of pain and suffering. Freeing one’s self of attachments (obsessive fear-based neediness) allows for an opening of the self to surrender and allowing and, from this place, tremendous opportunities and synchronicities often come into play. Many see this as “airy-fairy,” new-agey,” spiritual and the like (all in themselves defensive reactions driven by, you guessed it, fear, fear that feeds upon itself).

    But I personally have experienced, as I have witnessed others experience, the results of letting go…wherein, synchronistically, clients show up, events and circumstances happen not unlike that which happened with this architect. What’s even more curious and interesting is that for this to happen, one quality more than any other is required, trust. Go figure.

    As for Wally Bock’s blog re: “fear from a team perspective.” “He says: ‘When people are scared, what they think about is what they’re scared of. While they’re doing that, they can’t think of other things, like how to do a better job’.” (Stewart/Wally Bock)

    I think it’s important to understand why this is so. Fight, freeze or flight is the organism’s reactivity to a real or perceived threat, a fear. In this reactive state, the amygdala/limbic brain, or the reptilian brain – take over and whatever behavior occurs, is “reactive,” that is, not “responsive” and not coming from the neo-cortex, the rational, executive, thinking part of the brain.

    Why this is so important in that many folks who are reactive, in a state of flight, fight or freeze, often believe they are being “rational” in their decision-making or discourse. They couldn’t be further from the truth. They’re being emotional – like a 3-4-5 year-olds in an adult bodies wearing adult clothes – not emotionally mature or adult. This is often the cause of major dysfunctions among teams, couples, and groups.

    Owning one’s fear, allowing it to be (that is, having the fear, not being – acting out – the fear) allows one to digest the fear and metabolize it and in the process, move into the neo-cortex and into a state of equanimity where one can be relaxed, centered, grounded – states that foster collaboration, listening, mutual understanding and support – where one can more readily and realistically “think” about solutions for the common good.

    If more folks understood this, my experience is they would take the time, not to act out instinctively, but to breathe, become centered and reflective and be more cooperative and less (perhaps unconsciously) combative with fewer unintended consequences from being in a state of fight, flight or fear.

    I think this is a crucial, yet often ignored, part of the foundation your graphic points to.

    Reply
  2. Stewart HIrsch
    Stewart HIrsch says:

    Peter – the concept you share of owning own’s fear is powerful. By following your approach, the fear can strengthen, rather than weaken us. That way the fear (like other strong emotional reactions) can help us to recognize a problem, without compounding it. Thanks for your insights Peter!

    Reply
  3. Mikie
    Mikie says:

    The comment “take the time, not to act out instinctively, but to breathe, become centered and reflective” hit home with an article I read recently. the idea was that basically when making decisions or facing our fears, etc. there is a battle between “taking quick action” v. “reasoned thought”. Science has seemed to uncover that the reactive mode is part of man kinds early development and that with our bigger brain we can reason out our problems but we must still hold back the urge to act or avoid.

    Reply

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