What Happened to Trust?

On his PBS show last night Charlie Rose was interviewing John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley. Their conversation provided some light into the turbulent days of September 2008 when the financial markets began to plunge and long-standing Wall Street banks folded. No drama in the dialogue that bordered on a clinical. However, a theme that appeared throughout the interview has to do with the notion of trust. For Morgan Stanley and John Mack there were moments during which his firms very existence was at stake. He spoke about living in his office with his leadership team for a three week period. The ability for credit to flow between banks had broken down and yet at the same time he reflected back that the trust among the members of his leadership team grew dramatically. For the rest of their lives the small band of people who lived in the executive suite will forever be bonded by the shared experience.

Today I sit with headlines blaring about our return to late 1990’s levels in the markets. One of Idahos largest employers just announced layoffs numbering close to 2,000 jobs. Nonprofit clients and associates are trying to survive some combination of increased/decreased demand for services and decreased funding. The news is overwhelming and a replay of the same conversations that took place in John Mack’s office.

The real question in my mind is ‘when will we allow ourselves to trust again?’ John Mack has started trusting again. He speaks as if he has weathered the worst of the storm and is ready to ride out the backside with some more bruises. He sounds reverently optimistic. His firm sees trust growing and credit is opening up.

You can almost feel the trust being sucked away from those who are going into their own economic storms. There are also those individuals who feel that the front has passed over them and they are ready for some clouds, wind, rain, and hail but they trust.

If change is constant, perhaps we just need to trust that today and tomorrow will be different.