Jeanette Sekan
Jeanette Sekan
By Jeanette Sekan
The Cody (Wyo.) Enterprise
HCP columnist


When I heard that George Schultz passed away, I remembered reading something he recently wrote about the importance of trust.

I thought I had cut it out, since I still resort to the old-fashioned way of keeping articles and other things of interest. So I went through the overflowing file. Lo and behold I found it. He actually wrote this a couple of months before his passing at age 100.

My political leanings are different than Mr. Schultz’s. He served in two administrations, and some of his work continues to have impact on the world. His reflections on how trust made such a difference in his personal life and professional career on the national and international stages were a good reminder that none of us are one thing.

While our various beliefs on things can pigeonhole us into some broad categories that are usually defined by others, re-reading his opinion piece reminded me of what we can learn from others and that those pigeon holes are so very limiting. The large, wide arc of the pendulum’s swing is no more effective in moving the clock forward than small, precise movements.

Trust. It seems in short supply these days. I read Mr. Schultz’s 10 most important things he learned about trust over 100 years. He trusted his parents; he trusted his Marine sergeant in World War II and carried that feeling of trust forward when he advised Presidents on the use of military action and how to prepare the troops for victory.

He trusted his early coworkers who saw that monetary reward to the bottom line did not have to be at the expense of anyone’s dignity – owners, management and frontline workers could all benefit from trust in each other. Schultz’s and Reagan’s “trust, but verify” helped relations while working with the then Soviet Union on reducing intermediate range nuclear weapons. When you can verify, you can trust. When you trust, you’re allowed to verify.

He wrote about something that we should all inherently know, but we seem to forget with regularity. “Trust is fundamental, reciprocal and, ideally, pervasive. If it is present, anything is possible. If it is absent, nothing is possible. The best leaders trust their followers with the truth, and you know what happens as a result? Their followers trust them back.”

Trust requires accepting the same facts, then working forward in good faith. Trust requires truth. How do you trust if you are repeatedly lied to and the facts that one can see and hear are continually denied? If you can’t trust your partner, your friends and your family, how can we interact to produce good relationships? If you can’t trust your ideas, your bank, your attorney, accountant, business partners or coworkers, how do you have a successful business?

Yes, we know there are grifters, con artists and people who take advantage of others. Scam phone calls wouldn’t be so prolific if everyone were honest.

Caveat emptor needs to apply, but we also need to start from a position of trust, until or unless we’re proven wrong. If we start from distrust, how do we accomplish anything? Thank you, Mr. Schultz.