TRUST (Q4.6)

The Q builds reliance between Team Members 

Reliance is the heart of Trust. For a Team to be Dynamic, the Members must implicitly and fully rely upon each other to do their jobs.

Whether it is the character of another man or a footbridge over a gorge, we only decide to step forward if we believe we can rely upon on its strength to keep us from falling. If we don’t believe a man’s character is strong enough to support the weight, we won’t rely on him any more than we would a rickety bridge to keep us out of a river.

The most efficient method of determining strength is to apply stress to see where the thing (or the man) breaks

We do this with a footbridge by jumping up and down on it at a point where it spans a place that won’t kill us if we break through. If the bridge holds the jumping-me ten feet over the ground, then I can rely upon it to hold the walking-me fifty feet over the rushing river.

With men the stress principle is the same, although the means and methods vary by what we need the man to do. For example, a candidate for public office is subjected to the stress of a political campaign. If he cannot withstand that without breaking we deem him too unreliable for the pressures of the office he seeks. An attorney must survive the stress of the bar examination to obtain a law license. If that breaks him, he cannot be relied upon sufficiently to practice successfully. A doctor must survive the rigors of his residency before people will place their lives in hands. A doctor who snaps under stress can get you killed.

When applied to a man rather than a thing, stress testing serves a dual purpose

Like it does with the bridge, it demonstrates reliability to others. But, unlike the bridge, it also demonstrates to the man himself that the reliance of others is justified. Passing the stress test gives a man the confidence he needs to take on the responsibility of what comes afterwards. “If I got through that,” he tells himself, “then I have what it takes to get through this”. You can trust me because I am reliable—I trust myself.

Within a Team, Trust is paramount

Each Member must be able to fully rely upon the other Members to perform those Tasks essential to the performance of the Team’s Mission. It is not enough for man to tell his Team Members that he can do his job, or even for the Q to do so. They have to see the man in action under stress for Trust to build. The most efficient way for that to happen is for the Team to do things together that are dirty, difficult and dangerous.

About my third week of Ranger School the instructors marched us to a pond in the outback of Fort Benning. There, in the water, was a narrow ladder that ascended forty feet to a 4 X 4 plank that spanned forty feet above and across the pond, with a rope at the other end that stretched horizontally forty feet above the pond. The idea was to climb the ladder, walk the plank and drop from the rope into the water, which was nasty and cold. There was no safety line—if you fell, you fell. It was dirty and dangerous. And, although it would have been an easy thing to do were it only five feet off the ground, walking that forty feet of plank forty feet above the water was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It only took about two minutes to walk that plank, but it felt like two hours.

In truth, I didn’t want to do it. I’m certain that very few of my fellow Ranger School students wanted to do it either. And some men, maybe 5%, didn’t do it. They wanted to graduate from Ranger School just as much as the rest of us, but something within them just would not let them climb that ladder, walk that plank and drop into that water. The stress was too much.

But the others, the ones who were able to overcome the dirt, danger and difficulty, we learned something about ourselves and each other that dramatically strengthened the Trust between us. It only took two minutes, but such is the power of dirty, dangerous and difficult things to bond men together.

F3 has an acronym for the dirty, dangerous and difficult things we do to build Trust. We call them CSAUPs, which stands for Completely Stupid And Utterly Pointless

This is satirical on our part because a CSAUP is neither stupid nor pointless, it is a very efficient way to build Trust. A CSAUP can be an obstacle race or a GORUCK challenge or anything else that provides the opportunity for dirt, danger and difficulty. Completing it together tells the participants something about themselves and each other—that they are men upon whom others may safely rely.

The nature of the event is not important. What matters is that the Q uses the CSAUP to apply stress to his Team to build the Trust-relationship between its Members.

For a Team to be Dynamic, the Members must be able to fully rely upon each other.

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