I have a lot of flaws. Too many to list. Fine, I’ll list a few. I’m disorganized. I’m forgetful. I can’t plan anything to save my life. I’m messy. I procrastinate. I can go on, but I’ll leave it there.
If I had to point to one thing that’s served me well in life, and it’s a short list, it’s that I tell the truth.
I didn’t decide to wake up today and pat myself on the back. I was thinking about this because a friend who I haven’t spoken with in a long time came back into my life*. He had an idea that he wanted to run by me, and at the end of the conversation, he said, “I knew you’d tell me if this was shit.”
Your truth and the truth are not always the same thing. The truth is a fact. Your truth is just an opinion. Nobody values somebody who is honest about their opinions if their opinions always suck. Knowing when to offer your truth and keep your mouth shut is a rare quality. The line between thoughtful dialogue and disrespectful disagreement is razor-thin.
If you cross the line, you lose somebody’s confidence. There are countless ways to do this, and once you do, it’s hard to go back. My parents taught me that all you have is your word. Lose this, and you’ve lost everything.
Trust is the most valuable currency on the planet. And it’s something you can’t buy. You have to earn it.
It takes time to earn somebody’s trust. You can’t force it. You can’t even be deliberate about it. It just has to show with every action you take. Eventually, your bank will fill, and you’ll have something that most people don’t.
*His words hit hard because the last time I spoke to this person, I was a different person. Or at least I was in a much different place in my life. Maybe I’m the same. I don’t know.
This was one of my best friends growing up, but he did something that hurt me, and I held a grudge for more than a decade. I wanted to reach out but was a coward. Told you I have many flaws. Thankfully he reached out to me.
Michael Batnick is a managing partner at Ritholtz Wealth Management. He is the co-host of Animal Spirits, What Are Your Thoughts, and The Compound and Friends. For disclosure information please see here.