“Good actions give strength to ourselves, and inspire good actions in others.” Plato

A frog meets a scorpion on a riverbank. The scorpion is desperate to get to the other side and pleads with the frog to carry him across the river on his back. The frog is quite rightly suspicious of the scorpion and politely points out that it might sting him while swimming. The scorpion explains that he cannot swim and to sting the frog would result in death for both of them. After some consideration, the frog decides to trust the scorpion and agrees to carry him to the other side. Halfway across the river, the scorpion inexplicably stings the frog causing paralysis. As they both begin drowning the frog asks the scorpion why he’s committed them both to death with his actions, the scorpion replies, “I have no idea why perhaps it’s because I’m a scorpion?”

Author: Phil Quirk


Trust is a fascinating concept. Businesses are built upon it, relationships also. It can be lost in the blink of an eye and takes much more time to rebuild when betrayed. I have been too trusting in the past, without a doubt. It has only been in this year of my life where I have developed a cautiousness that prevents such mistakes. Everyone would act following their word in a utopian society, and trust would be an automatic starting point in any relationship. Unfortunately, the reality in my experience is not reflective of this romantic ideal.

All is not lost, though, the key to building more robust and resilient relationships is to invest heavily in building trust. Whether in business or your personal relationships, investment in this area will lead to astounding results over time. One of the finest models for understanding the underpinning value of trust is Patrick Lencioni’s ‘5 Dysfunctions of a Team’. Don’t be discouraged by the title; books often use negative titles as they market better than positive titles. What Lencioni talks about in his book is the five fundamental functions of a high performing team.  The model is built like a pyramid with each level underpinning and supporting the level above. Unsurprisingly, the underpinning foundations of the entire model and the first level is trust.

The absence of trust will placate the absence of all of the other levels above and often when I’m working with organisations nearly all of their challenges have their origins in trust, or lack of it to be more accurate. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts or hacks for building trust with individuals, especially if those individuals don’t necessarily like each other, which is often the case within organisations. The starting point for me is to have the courage to show vulnerability which is often feared most when trust is missing, both professionally and personally. It is easy to understand when trust is present, because honest debate and conflict can occur without being perceived as an agenda-based interaction with ulterior meanings.

Reflection: If you can do this, you’re well on establishing a high performing team if conflict and debate cannot be honest and without agenda, you have to step back down to the trust level and start again with vulnerability.