You need to develop relationships with people based on trust. The other day I was in New York and decided to attend a church service with a dear friend of more than 20 years, Dr AR Bernard of Christian Cultural Centre. During the service they showed a video called the "Marshmallow Test." Young children were put in a room with a marshmallow (a type of sweet) and told that if they didn’t eat it, they’d get an extra one when the adult returned. Left alone, the children then had to manage their impulse to simply grab the sweet and eat it. Many of them managed to control themselves and so earned the extra sweet. However, experts found that those children who’d previously been let down by an adult ate the sweet immediately. Some of the children in the Marshmallow Test just didn’t value the promise made by the adult because they’d been betrayed by adults before! So what has this got to do with our theme about surviving tough times… the Eagle in a storm? Everything! Getting through tough times will depend on how many relationships you have built up, based on trust!
When people trust you, it’s possible to get a helping hand during tough times. Some children were willing to wait because they trusted the adult who’d made a promise to them. Asking other people to wait or make sacrifices depends to a great extent on how much people believe they can trust you, based on previous conduct, particularly when you seemed to be the one with the upper hand. As a matter of principle, you must build relationships with employees, partners, investors and customers based on trust. It’s important to be known as a person of integrity. I’ve already written a great deal about respect for the rule of law. This is about respect for yourself as a person of moral character. You must establish your track record as an honourable person when times are good. There’s no point in showing humility only when things get tough; you must be trustworthy when you’re flying high!
• If during the good times you and your family were splashing money around like there’s no tomorrow, you’ll find it difficult to call on others to make sacrifices.
• If you were never willing to pay your creditors (there’s never an excuse for this!), you’ll find it difficult, if not impossible, to secure credit during the tough times.
• If you broke agreements with impunity because you were powerful, no one will stand with you when it’s you who needs help.
Who do you know who really trusts you? Who is out there that will stand up for you?
Real trust transcends your ability to go to members of your family, your clan, your tribe, your religion, your nationality or even your race. When you sit down to reflect upon this issue, consider how many people from outside your "comfort circle” of family, clan, tribe, race, religion, would consider you trustworthy? This is the "marshmallow test" for each one of us, every day. In Christianity, it’s the real interpretation of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Personally, one of the greatest testimonies of my life is the number of people who have stood in my corner when I needed help. It never ceases to amaze me how far people are prepared to stand in my corner. It's called "unmerited favour" and a blessing for which I am deeply grateful. There are also people out there who I’ll try to give almost anything to help out when they are in trouble! Do all you can every day to reach out to other people and build trust. Be a person of your word. Your character as a person of integrity is far more important than any money in the bank, fancy car or anything material in your life.