Why trust is the cornerstone of your creative practice

I used to be really scared of roller coasters. When my parents would take me on them, I’d be a bundle of nervous energy and shouty. I would buy into the whole setup, you know, the “will you dare to enter?” and all that stuff, and I’d feel really intimidated by it. Once the ride started, I’d be yelling and freaked out. I remember being on the verge of completely wanting to get off, especially on one of them in Florida. My dad, who was sitting next to me, saw how I was reacting and not having a good time. I asked him if I could get off because I thought I might die. He responded, “Do you trust me?” I replied, “I guess, I mean, I’m 10.” He reassured me by saying, “Do you think I would let anything bad happen to you?” I’m not sure if it helped much, but I do know that I ended up really enjoying the ride, and that memory has stuck with me 30 years later. So, it must have meant something.

Trust is a big indicator of how we evaluate leaders. You may not think of yourself as a leader, and that’s completely fine. I’m not here to tell you that you are a leader. If you just want to make your thing, that’s cool. But by putting yourself out there, you are being the taller poppy. You are effectively saying, “Look at me” and ultimately, probably, “Buy from me.” Whether it’s a print you’re selling or a Patreon subscription, you are asking for people’s trust.

Leadership, in quotation marks, can also be seen in those small moments, like the conversation my dad had with me. It was just a little glimpse of what leadership is. It’s about being there with someone and not letting anything bad happen to them.

Throughout February, we’re talking about connection. Even if money isn’t a factor in what you do, building a strong network is still important. You don’t want to be like Jeff, the person who sent his secretary to dump business cards on people’s tables at networking meetings. No one wants to be Jeff. Instead, you want to be the person in your network that people can trust.

There are three key elements of trust: positive relationships, good judgment or expertise, and consistency.

Let’s start with positive relationships, which is the most important element. It’s about staying connected with what people care about. This applies not only to your potential customers or patrons but also to the people around you in your space, network, and community. Show genuine concern for others, generate cooperation, resolve conflicts, and provide honest feedback when asked for it.

The second element is good judgment or expertise, the second most important element. It involves making informed decisions and explaining the reasoning behind your feedback or opinions. Contribute your expertise to your group or community, respond quickly to problems, and demonstrate good judgment.

The final element of trust is consistency. Consistency is important in the work we do, and it also involves being a role model, honoring commitments, and going above and beyond when needed. Be the person who solves problems and offers help to others in your space.

If you do just one thing today, go to one of the communities where you hang out and look for someone you can help. Offer advice to someone facing a problem or provide honest feedback when requested. Take the time to assist others because when people trust you, buying from you or working with you becomes easier.

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