I am, at the age of eighty, in the course of identifying the most impactful encounters that have influenced how I act and think. Included in the encounters are books, poems, plays, jokes, cartoons, pieces of music, songs, and people of all ages and from many different countries. Without exception they have supported me to recognise when I am lying to myself about who I really am.
In the main, the words and music were created by people whose names many would know. But not all of them, as they include my Mother and Grandmother. Neither of them were well educated, but I know that born later they would have made great contributions to colleges and universities. Instead they made great contributions to their children and grandchildren with words that probably came from their Grandmothers and Mothers. One of the sayings was, “Tell the truth and shame the devil.” Since they didn’t come from the world of academia, no book was written to support the assertion. It involved trust and usage to validate its veracity and worth.
The word “trust” is a useful segue from the world of grandmothers and mothers to the world of work. Trust is necessary for truth to thrive and is a vital ingredient in any context. Trust unlocks the power of truth.
A time existed when deals were sealed without pen and paper, but by the physical act of shaking hands. The spit on the hand and the handshake provided the opportunity to both “feel” the truth and seal the deal. It was one highly simple act in which two people joined together without the need for corporate lawyers and reams of paper.
I and four other board colleagues were involved in the buy-out of a long-established shipping company, which had been created through acquisitions by a brilliant Edwardian entrepreneur. We were financed by a consortium of ten merchant banks. The legal papers stood three feet high and I remember thinking that it was more than likely that a number of errors had been tucked away. Never-the-less, we all trusted that the legal work was true and accurate, and went ahead. I hoped that somewhere we would find that we had by chance acquired a few acres of valuable Docklands property. We hadn’t, but we did now own an old coaling depot on the Suez Canal!
Over the course of the first few months of ownership we met for lunch with representatives of the banks. One was particularly interesting. When I asked how he decided to invest his company’s money he replied that, although all of our forecasts looked impressive, he based his decision on the fact that we looked competent and he trusted us. The truth rested on his trust of us. We had acted in good faith and so had he.Download Article 500 Club