A few days ago, a group of classmates and I were asked a simple question about trust during a team-building activity.
“Do you offer trust all at once? Or do you offer trust gradually, in small increments?”
Most people would probably find themselves nearer to the middle, depending on the situation. However, for the purpose of the activity, we were asked to choose either extreme and discuss any personal anecdotes that led us there.
As I pondered where I fell on the trust spectrum, I listened to some of my classmates’ answers. Most of them carried a common theme of trusting less over time.
“Having played on a number of sports teams growing up, I learned that good teams were based on trust. We had no choice but to trust our teammates, so I gave out trust all at once. We had to have each other’s backs. As I grew up, though, I’ve been more selective about who I trust.”“I feel like I have mostly given people the benefit of the doubt. About a few months ago, though, I left my window open and my house got broken into. So that has led me to re-evaluate things.”
When it was my turn to speak, I echoed a trend that many of us had realized.
"Earlier in my life, I trusted people wholly and immediately. However, now I consider myself an incremental truster."
I wondered why this may be the case for many of us. Could it be that we grow tired of occasionally being let down? Or, perhaps that we inherently grow to become more stingy with our trust of others?
My three-pronged hypothesis is as follows:
As we age, our time becomes more valuable, and we are less willing to give it up
Trust is a mutual investment of time between two or more people
Failed trust manifests itself as wasted time
The concept of time continues to fascinate me. It truly is our most valued currency.
When considering the value of time as we age, I must refer back to this episode of the Tim Ferriss Show, called Naval Ravikant on Happiness Hacks and the 5 Chimps Theory. Around 56 minutes in, Naval, Tim’s guest, brought up a thought-provoking question regarding the value of time as we age, which I paraphrased below.
How many years of your life would you have to get back in exchange for giving up everything you have earned and put away?
in other words...
You may keep your family, your friends, and everything you know, but you lose everything else (your possessions, your money, and your job). In this exchange, you get to be physically younger. How many years of your life would you agree to get back in exchange for giving up everything.
Pretty crazy scenario, yeah? Let Naval explain further:
"I have friends who say 5 or 10 years. For me personally, it is about 2-3 years. I'd start over with everything if you gave me back 2-3 years of youth, frankly. But the older you get the smaller that number gets. When you’re on your death bed, when you’re in your last days, you’d give up every dollar in the bank for another week, another few days, another hour, another minute.”
The last sentence is written on a notecard above my desk. I look at it and remember that...
time our most precious resource. Use it wisely.
With each passing day, we inch inevitably closer to the right. As we approach, our time becomes increasingly more valuable.
Perhaps this is why we find ourselves trusting less as we get older –failed trust leads to wasted time.
Use your time and your trust wisely.