What Do You Trust?

(Excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book Just One Step: The Journey to Your Unstoppable You)

The past couple of weeks I’ve been writing about feeling lost or stuck, and last week I share with you my thoughts and perspectives on the reality of fear. Specifically, the importance of honestly assessing fear and taking action despite any fears. This week I’m continuing with the journey through feeling stuck and the importance of assessing what you’re ready to trust.


Even after you’ve fully and deeply assessed the fears at play and gotten your fears out in front of you, taking action will always require some degree of trust. Because there are no guarantees or absolutes, there will always be uncertainties. It’s in this realm of uncertainty where trust is required, and there are various forms of trust. In communication and relationships, we often talk about trust in terms of trusting other people, but in this context, the two trust questions are not about other people. The questions are about whether (and to what degree) you trust yourself and whether (and to what degree) you trust that things will work out and be okay (and that you’ll be okay). It’s these two elements of trust that will serve you most in your adventure of life.

The first trust question – do you trust yourself? – isn’t looking for an absolute answer. I wonder if any of us can truly trust ourselves completely – that seems to be unrealistic. Thus, we make a slight change in this trust question. The question isn’t just do you trust yourself, but rather do you trust yourself enough? Do you trust yourself enough to move forward? Do you trust yourself enoughto take action? Do you trust yourself enough to take one step? Too often we think of decisions as requiring us to take a leap across some giant chasm (picture Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), but this is rarely the case. More often, and no matter how big the ultimately objective is, the first step is a small step, and most decisions can and must be broken down into small steps. 

I often experience people who are getting caught up in and intimidated by the seemingly big challenge or issue in front of them, but a huge challenge is rarely what’s truly in front of them. Rather, there may be a big question or issue further down the road, but right now there’s only a small amount of information needed, and only a small decision is required. You can certainly apply this same process to big decisions that are actually right in front of you, but most of the time your big fears will disappear or dissipate once you reframe your questions into the small decisions and steps that are required right now.

Do you trust yourself enough? I’m confident that most of the time your answer will be a resounding yes, yes, yes!

The other important trust question may be a little more difficult because it relates to the much larger realm of all the people, things and outcomes that you don’t control. As already shared above, you control very little (only you), and the question of whether you trust yourself enoughis primarily limited to your own steps. However, there’s always the reality that many things are beyond your control (and perhaps even your influence), and then the trust question becomes the following: Do you trust that everything, including you, will be okay? Even if you don’t get or achieve the desired result or outcome, do you believe that things and you will be okay? To be sure, I’m not using the word “okay” to suggest some form of settling or just getting by, but it is something akin to surviving.

If you’ve lived life much at all, you’ve had setbacks and failures in your life. As I often share, I’ve had some significant personal and professional setbacks in my life (e.g. broken marriage, damaged family relationships including with my sons, failed business, bankruptcy etc.). I took some big falls and not only got bruised but broke some bones and suffered and caused lots of heart damage. But I survived. I was okay. I stood back up, climbed back up and rose up. This isn’t about trusting that everything will work out, because not everything does work out (certainly not the way we want or hope, at least). It’s simply about trusting that no matter what the outcomes, you and everything will be okay. In fact, you, me and everything is already okay.

This is definitely not about doing nothing or simply hoping that things work out – it’s about getting clear on who you are and what you want, being honest about your fears, being decisive and taking clear action and trusting that no matter what the outcomes, you and everything will be okay. If you’re feeling the need to ask me, “How do you know?” then you’re missing the point. Trust isn’t about knowing – it’s about, well, trusting. I don’t trust because it’s always true – I trust, and it has always been true. I didn’t see this earlier in my life, and I was quick to point out how things hadn’t worked out the way I’d hoped, but I missed the truth that things had somehow worked out. Yes, it was sometimes painful, challenging and scary. Yes, it was sometimes sad and lonely. And yes, it and I were always somehow okay and able to carry on. Until your, my and our last breath, we can always keep moving – choosing not to be lost or stuck. Choosing to move through our fears. Choosing to take action. Choosing to trust.

The source of my deep level of trust is two-fold. First, I have a strong belief in God which provides comfort no matter what the circumstances or outcomes. Second, my trust is based upon a lifetime of proof in the form of the outcomes in my life, as well as a reframing of what it means to be okay. My younger brother Gregg was tragically killed when he was nineteen years old, which not only changed the course of my family but inflicted some deep wounds inside of me that I’ve only begun healing in the past nine years. Despite all of this and the sadness that every member of my family has carried since that day in 1980, we’re all okay. Yes, it had a profound impact on my parents and, I believe, their marriage and relationship. Yes, my Mom lived the rest of her life carrying around deep grief that I don’t believe she ever dealt with, and which I believe ultimately led to her death. Despite all of these things that most of us would label as negative outcomes (I don’t like labels), life went on for all of us and everyone is okay, even though my parents’ marriage ended and even though my Mom died.

As for me, my choices in life have created all sorts of outcomes that I didn’t desire and which I would love to have changed, but despite it all I’m okay, I’m healing and many of those outcomes are healing. I made choices in my marriage that hurt my wife and my sons, and which led to the marriage ending, yet my relationship with my sons has been healing since I took responsibility and started to show up differently with them (in the ways I’m sharing in this book). My relationship with my wife is not healing, but I have done everything that I can to heal that relationship, and I’ve let go of the need to have it healed. I can’t control her choices and emotions, but I can choose not to be defined by her choices.

I’ve had a failed business, filed bankruptcy and had to dig out from a financial catastrophe that caused all sort of pain, but I’m still here and continuing to build a thriving business. It’s not perfect and I’m not perfect, but everything is still okay despite the depths of what came before. I’ve lost friends and family to death (some young and some old). I’ve lost clients and had scary times in my business. I’ve loved and lost and felt the deep pain of those lost relationships. I’ve been in the fire and at times felt like my life was on fire, and yet here I am – alive and living life full-on no matter what the outcomes. I sometimes get what I want, but often I don’t, and I’m still okay and everything is okay.

Here’s what you need to know about being okay. First, okay is not the same as settling. Settling is a matter of choice – choosing to settle for okay or mediocre. Second, what I’m referring to is knowing that even if things don’t turn out the way you want or hope, you and things will still be okay. I’m often challenged by people who say that it’s easy for me to be peaceful and to have little or no stress because everything is working out for me. In other words, they believe (and want to believe) that the outcomes determine my state of mind and way of being, but the opposite is true. My state of mind and way of being is independent of the outcomes, and I face significant challenges, setbacks and losses every day. Despite the outcomes, my life is filled with joy and peace. And yes, I feel sadness, anger, fear and sometimes shame, but only when I’m not present and only when I fail to trust that everything will be okay – in fact, everything is already okay (See Chapter 16, Just Follow the Formula).

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