On trust and vulnerability

A syllogism and a related thought:

The quality of a relationship is a reflection of the trust between two people.

Vulnerability is defined as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.”

Our willingness to be vulnerable, then, is a measure of our belief that our action will increase the trust in a relationship.

In his essay The Crisis, Thomas Paine shared an anecdote about a tavern-keeper who, standing at the door of his tavern with his child in his arms and faced with the prospect of war with England, declared “Well, give me peace in my day.”

Tom’s response was that a generous parent should have said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”

There’s no question that peace is preferable to trouble. Thankfully, we’re not especially likely to face the reality of war or its personal effect on our children. But if we’re to truly be leaders, vulnerability means that we have take the position of the generous parent in the challenges we do face. It means that we have to be the ones who will stand up and say “I can take this if it means someone else won’t have to.”

I wish it were easier. But then, if it were, it probably wouldn’t be worth it.



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I'm a 30-something lawyer working at a fast-growing tech startup. I read Milton (John and Friedman) for fun. And I'm out to change the world.

One thought on “On trust and vulnerability”

  1. I was listening to NPR on my drive home today and they were talking about bees. The interviewer asked why – in a biological context – bees died after stinging, when usually organisms have evolved to perpetuate their species. The reply was that bees don’t personally reproduce so they protect the queen in order to perpetuate their species. If they die to save the queen, it’s worth it to them. Even in a biological context, bearing the trouble yourself is preferable to ease the way for your progeny (thus increasing the likelihood of perpetuating your genes).

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