Trust Equation

By: Clarice Fu

In an earlier post, “THE PILLARS OF MENTORING AT 180TH (PART 4): ACCOUNTABILITY”, Clarice tells the story of rover Betty, who became frustrated at her mentor for pushing her to hit her goals.  One of the problems was that Betty and her mentor had not yet built a foundation of trust in their relationship.  In this article, Clarice explains the 180th’s philosophy on “Trust” in a mentoring context.

In the early days of the 180th when we were all new to mentoring, our head advisor Scouter John Chow often emphasized the importance of building a foundation of trust with our mentees.  Whenever he brought this up, we all kind of nodded in agreement.  But even though we understood what the word meant, we wondered, how in the world do you go about deliberately “building trust”?  Where would you even start?

I remember the time when a group of us were gathered in a room, and one rover shared something he learned from management training at work.  He said that “Trust” is actually quite straightforward, and believe it or not, it can be explained by simple mathematics!

Here’s what he wrote on the board:

Trust Equation

This is the “Trust Equation”, where the components stand for:

C = Credibility.  Accumulated through experience, past successes and failures.  Having “been there, done that”.  “Street Cred”.

R = Reliability.  Doing what you say you’ll do, all the time.

Ca = Caring.  Having genuine concern for the well-being of a mentee.

SI = Self-Interest.  A mentor’s personal bias or advantage that disregards the true interests of the mentee.

Consider the basics of division: the larger the nominator, the larger the quotient; the larger the denominator, the smaller the quotient.  In the context of mentoring: the more experience you have, the more consistent you are, and the more genuine care you have for a mentee, the more likely that your mentee will have trust in you.   On the contrary, if you allow self-interest or bias to cloud your perspective as a mentor, your mentee will not trust in you because you will fail to recognize your mentee’s true interests.

We all experienced an “ah-ha” moment when we saw this – the equation made so much sense!  Of course, it still doesn’t tell us how to build trust at a tactical level, but it was a good start and gave us a common understanding of an important concept.

Amongst all the busy projects and other aspects of life in our crew, it’s easy to forget the fundamentals of what it takes to build a relationship with someone.  Oftentimes, the cause of interpersonal conflict or the failure to succeed stems from a lack of trust between people.  The relationship between a mentor and mentee is no different.  If you’re learning to become a mentor, you definitely want to add this “Trust Equation” to your mentoring toolkit!


Mostafa Nejati

Leave a Reply Text

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