How and How Not to Trust
There’s a trust fable so caked with dust that no one knows its origins.
You’ll find variations of it in Russia, Central Europe, ancient Greece, Sanskrit, scrolls from the Persian Empire… and you might even remember it from grade school.
A scorpion, stranded at a river, asks a frog if he can ride across on its back. The frog hems and haws… it knows that in most situations, this rascally hitchhiker would sting and kill him. The scorpion convinces the frog not to worry; if he stings him out on the water, they’ll both drown.
Makes sense, the frog figures, and out they go.
You probably know the brutal ending—sure enough, the scorpion stings the frog and they both start to drown.
But there’s a footnote that some forget.
With his last words, the frog asks the scorpion why he doomed them, and the scorpion cuts a straight answer:
I couldn’t help myself. It’s in my nature.
If you ask anyone who’s had some dealings with flattery, handshake deals, false promises, liars, a courtroom, or ass-covering excuses… the fable earns a nod.
Along with a sigh.
When People Show You Who They Are…
Listen, and believe them.
We’re so sure of this one, we’ll quote Oprah Winfrey on it.
As much as pick up rose-tinted glasses and assume everyone has a rational, considerate, fountain of goodness flowin’ on the inside… we can tell time by how often Mr. Hyde leaps out and goes hold my beer!
Human nature calls bullshit like nothing else, and without knowing that, no one launching a nonprofit, an app, a pest control business, or even a meth empire is going to get very far.
If it’s gut-wrenching, as Greek tragedies, the Bible and sagas like Breaking Bad humbly suggest, then it’s also surprising…
Even though it shouldn’t be.
Telling the Blade from the Handle
The Scorpion and the Frog stay with us because we’re knocked sideways when people double down on who they are. We’re stunned to discover that they are who they said they were, who they showed us they are early on.
Seeing the truth confirmed—and realizing the clues were there all along—is astonishing.
And the catch, as any lender or entrepreneur knows, is that somehow, even with human nature, (OUR OWN and everyone else’s…) being what it is… you’ve got to trust people to succeed.
While there’s plenty of scorpions, It’s not unheard of for humans to do the opposite.
Just when we’re howling in misery like a dethroned Will Ferrell, someone swoops in, picks up the tab, and for no reason other than generosity, cleans up our mess. As often as they cheat and backstab, people sacrifice, forgive, go the extra mile… and more often than not, they return that lost wallet.
But expecting one nature and not the other is expecting the knife blade to feel more like the handle.
People who show themselves trustworthy again and again deserve to be trusted.
But making that call, especially once you’re off the porch and starting out on a dangerous, unfamiliar journey… can mean life or death.
We might call it risk or reward, loss or profit, but we’re all talking about the same damn thing… and we’re all tensed up when we’re waiting to see how it’s gonna go.
Every hero has to trust people, and it’s true enough that some friends are really scorpions.
But that’s no reason to get out and tussle.
Trusting others like a mind-reading Jedi takes time, wisdom, practice… and a ton of humble listening. But it also starts with knowing, and trusting yourself… even if you’ve had a morning or two right out of The Hangover.
To Know Thyself…
As you say leave the Shire and sally forth into big, bad Middle Earth, how do you learn to trust? And on that one, how do you learn who to trust?
Start by knowing yourself… and putting less faith in your own bullshit.
Who are you showing yourself to be?
If you look for ‘em, what breadcrumb trails lead back to home? Back to what you fear, cherish, or really hope for? What’s the why lurking beneath your goals, your urges, your hang-ups, your day-to-day choices and motivations?
You don’t know squat if you don’t know yourself… and if you think you’re not primed to confirm your biases, stick with old beliefs, or block out evidence you don’t like, well… what can we say?
Sorry, but the more we learn and aggregate, the more confirmation bias looks like it’s just part of the wiring.
For better or for worse.
If we struggle with it, so do you.
So before you hand out trust like firecrackers, be honest about your own biases.
Acknowledge them for what they are, and take some notes when life breaks a perception or two with a sledgehammer. If you’re always learning how little you really know… well, that ain’t a bad place to be.
And even when you’re guard’s up for your bias or someone else’s, build your trust by learning to listen… as in really listen and don’t just hear what you want to hear.
And when they show you that they’re human… for cryin’ out loud, believe them.
Dare’s Approach: Trust… and Verify
There’s a killer line in the HBO series Chernobyl, which explores the investigation, clean-up, and political maneuvering in Soviet Russia’s response to the disastrous reactor meltdown.
Legasov, a brilliant but somewhat naive physicist leading the clean-up, asks the KGB leader why he’s being spied on.
With a knowing chuckle, the top dog murmurs: “You know the old saying. Trust, but verify.”
It’s a line we love… as much for its subtext of there being no trust whatsoever in the former Soviet Union as for the irony of it first coming from Ronald Reagan.
It sounds like one of our values, but it’s actually light years away.
At Dare Capital, we ‘Trust, and Verify.’
That is, in a world of scorpions, bloated pandemic responses, and little room for error, we don’t lock our trust in the safe and never, ever bring it out.
Knowing risks and danger, we make our choice and trust for real, up front and all in… and later on, as all good businesses do, we verify.
Our experience lending money shows us that human nature doesn’t change that much. But even still, for entrepreneurs, ambitious builders, and those who’ve got the chops and character, we give trust first.
That is, we Dare to.
Because when we do the opposite of the big, cutthroat banks, when we give first with listening, empathy, and good communication… we find time and again that our clients will do the same.
An Ally You can Trust
Out of 488 leads last year, we funded twenty-two.
That shows you two things about us:
One, it ain’t easy money to get.
And two, we don’t churn out loans right and left just to beef the numbers up. Instead, we want to work with people we can get to know, people who see the journey that they’re on and know they’ve got a lot to learn.
We don’t trust blindly… and neither should you.
But in the words of Steven Pressfield, a gun recognizes another gun.
If you’re a renegade, a risk-taker, or someone who likes the sound of daring to trust, then give us a call.
And even if this sagely advice means eating your own slice of Humble Pie… just try some Black Coffee and head ONWARD.
We might be the ally you’re looking for.