Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



206 919 6440


The Decision to Trust!

Some of us put our trust in others. Is it a wise decision?

Over the last few weeks, I shared stories and learnings from my sabbatical earlier in the year. Notably, the lesson I valued most during the experience was learning more about where I come from by connecting with extended family members. This revelation was invaluable because I gained a deeper awareness of who I am in the context of others. And this enabled me to understand the breadth of value I can offer.
On the theme of family, last week, I delved into a touchy subject: the idea that a business is a family. Or is it? You may read more here: Are we a Business or a Family? – BLOG – www.akesatia.com

Admittedly, I feel compelled to forewarn you that depending on your leadership beliefs, as you read this piece, you may meander to another website, desperate to fix your eyes on anything else, including bouncy virtual cats. 😊 However, if you are a lifelong student of leadership, I encourage you to read on!
Notably, when I say leadership, I don’t mean approving travel requests, having a fancy title on your email signature, or possessing the coveted window office with a water view!

When I refer to leadership, I am referring to service and stewardship. Leadership is service and stewardship. Specifically, contributing to the welfare of others: Service. And the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care: Stewardship. – As defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Stewardship Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster
These qualities might appear lofty and perhaps unattainable. But if you have engaged with someone who consistently displayed them, I bet they left a lasting impression on you. Indeed, they are the essence of leadership. And I look forward to delving further into these in a future blog.  

Before we move on, let us consider a vital question: What propels an adult to relinquish control and allow another to care for them? The answer is encapsulated in one word: TRUST.
I have a hunch this is not a surprising revelation to many. However, when I was younger, I often wondered what enabled grown-ups to allow others to care for them. And I thought… Was it the assurance that one had ample financial resources? Or perhaps, one’s innate ability to compose a string of convincing words? Or better yet, the outcome of weathering storms together as dear friends?
Any of these might propel someone to lend a cherished gadget to another.
 However, to relax in the care of another requires something precious and costly!

Think about it!
Most of us would not accompany a random stranger home and sleep on their living room sofa simply because they are wealthy. Similarly, we probably would not invite an unknown person into our home just because they complimented us in passing. Why??
The answer lies in the golden five-letter word: TRUST! Developing trust in others enables us to allow them to come close. And trust is experienced across cultures, communities, and time. However, today, trust can be a touchy word!

What is TRUST?

As you hear the word: trust, perhaps you recall a moment when a friend, loved one, or stranger broke your trust. Or, perhaps, the word evokes fond memories of when you were delighted because of a stranger’s kindness or a loved one’s sacrifice.
Before we go further, it is worth distinguishing between two concepts that are related but markedly different: Wise trust and Blind trust. We sometimes describe: trust as either wise or blind. What does this mean?

Two types of Trust

Trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. Trust Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster Some refer to this type of trust as wise trust. Because rather than turning a blind eye to the probability of betrayal, it realistically assesses the likelihood of betrayal. Also, it recognizes that we are all imperfect and capable of betraying others. Trust and Betrayal | Psychology Today
In addition, wise trust is granted based on merit. And it is earned. It enables a wife to lay asleep in the vulnerable slumber position, hear her loving and committed husband leave, and re-enter the bedroom without turning around to ensure he does not hurt her. 

And what is Blind Trust?
Psychologically, blind trust is putting faith in someone without regard to demonstrated reliability or trustworthiness. When we grant someone blind trust, we turn a blind eye to the possibility that one could betray us. Upon reading this, you might be thinking… Blindly trusting someone is like a race car driver going 200 miles an hour on a racetrack with no guardrails! Why would one make such a decision?
As one might expect, there is an understandable though irrational reason!
The opposite of trust, known as distrust, evokes unwanted feelings of doubt, anxiety, and loneliness. And many blindly trust others to avoid these unwanted feelings. Not because they necessarily believe the other person warrants their trust. Trust and Betrayal | Psychology Today

However, many of us do not trust everyone and anyone in plain sight. Some might even say: Today, trust is hard to gain and even harder to give! Why?

Why is it so hard to Trust?

I am fascinated by the concept of trust in the context of cultures and relationships. And I frequently mull over questions like: Why do we trust some people and distrust others? What factors promote trust or erode trust in a culture? And what can we learn from ancient civilizations about building trust?
Over the years, my fascination with cracking the trust code has only grown! Perhaps you can relate.

Putting our trust in the wrong person or thing can be very costly. Ironically, we often expect and demand trust from others – even strangers! However, like laughter, trust is a gift we freely render when we are young. But our ability to freely grant trust seems to diminish as we gain life experience and experience disappointment.
And this brings to memory a unique Thanksgiving experience I had as a Sophomore in college. It was my second year living in the United States. And I spent the Thanksgiving weekend miles away with a friend I barely knew! Upon reading this, you might be thinking… That is not strange! Many college kids spend the holidays at new friends’ homes! And this is true, but my situation was a little different.

The Decision to Trust

On a rainy Tuesday afternoon in November, I was at a bus stop on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington. And on my right side stood a girl. I estimated she was close to my age and later learned her name was Melissa. Melissa seemed kind and friendly! And as we waited for the bus to arrive, we started chatting about our families and college experience. Melissa was intrigued by my upbringing in Africa and Italy, and I was equally curious about hers in a small town in Washington called Wenatchee! I also learned she was dating a guy she met during her sophomore year in high school. And she was convinced he was the one! Well, I love a good love story, and I had to hear more! 😊 Therefore, we exchanged numbers, and she invited me to visit her home the following Saturday afternoon.

Excitedly, the following Saturday at 2:30 pm, with a box of cookies in hand, I headed to Melissa’s apartment. When I arrived, we hugged each other like longtime friends, and she introduced me to her boyfriend. The three of us sat down in her living room for a couple of hours, had a lovely conversation, and I left. The following Wednesday, Melissa called me and asked if I had Thanksgiving plans. I informed her that I had none! – I grew up in parts of the world where Thanksgiving was not a known holiday. My parents still lived in Italy, and my elder sister was out of town. Therefore, I planned to stay home and do homework during the holiday. My Thanksgiving plans did not sit well with Melissa. And she graciously invited me to her home in Wenatchee to spend the holiday!

Wenatchee is merely two and a half hours from Seattle by car. But it frequently snowed heavily on the route during that time of year. And this could make the journey much longer, even treacherous! However, I was undeterred by the risk! Because Melissa informed me that she frequently drove to visit her family on weekends. And although the roads could be treacherous in her small car: a two-door hatchback Honda Accord, she was a pro at driving in the snow.

The Unexpected Joy of Trust

Delighted, I agreed to join Melissa and her family for Thanksgiving! And the following week, off we went to Wenatchee! I should point out that: I never viewed my decision as risky. An opportunity was presented, and I seized it! I entered the car of a person I barely knew and agreed to go on a 147-mile drive to an unfamiliar part of the state to spend the Thanksgiving weekend. And if you are waiting for a horror story to emerge, I can assure you: There is none! 

My Thanksgiving celebration with Melissa and her family was terrific! Her family was kind, welcoming, and hospitable! Throughout the weekend, a wide variety of Thanksgiving food (and pies!) filled the house. Melissa generously took me around the town and introduced me to their family and friends. Also, her aunt taught me how to knit, and I made a lavender scarf! In short, they made me feel like I was the prized guest at their Thanksgiving celebration that year!
Notably, they tried to familiarize me with their family dog, Colby. Unfortunately, given my lifelong phobia of dogs, they could not convince me Colby was as friendly as Mickey Mouse’s pal Pluto. Many have tried, but no one ever succeeds in that quest! 😉

However, by all indications, my Thanksgiving experience was a huge success! I authentically experienced a national tradition. And I learned to appreciate one of the most revered feasts in this new land I now called: home.

Is it Wise to Trust?

To my surprise, when I returned home to Seattle after the enjoyable weekend, giddy from the experience and proud of myself for venturing out, some friends expressed a different sentiment! They questioned my judgment in traveling across the state with someone I barely knew. Also, at that time, cell phones were rare among college students. And I did not take a cell phone with me. Therefore, others had no way of reaching me!
Apparently, I had blindly trusted Melissa! I trusted that she was who she said she was: A friendly and kind girl who lived across the state, was part of a great family, and hoped to get married soon. No creepy vibes there! Also, I never sought proof that she attended the University of Washington as she professed. Essentially, Melissa could have concocted the entire story. Fortunately, she did not. And I was not disappointed!

Since then, I have often wondered how I would react today if presented with the same opportunity. And I can say with 98% assurance that I would not hop into the car of someone I barely know, without a cell phone, and ride miles away for a holiday! Why 98% assurance, not 100%? You might be thinking! Well, because, as my dear sister Jessie used to say: You never know! 😊

Naturally, I have wondered about my current disposition and change of heart! And thought: Why does it seem increasingly challenging to trust others today? Is the loss of trust the result of skepticism brought upon by age and experience? And is there value in entrusting our care to others – personally and professionally?

I look forward to exploring this rocky terrain with you next time.

Until then, take care and trust wisely!

For you and to you,



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *