May 13, 2019


Stephen Covey’s “Speed of Trust” helps many people frame their business and personal relationships around some simple, effective principles. I also find the book enjoyable, even inspiring at times, to read. Here’s my summary of the main ideas and how to apply them in daily life.

There’s four pillars and five waves for conceptualizing trust.

Four Pillars of Trust

I focus on these “pillars” the majority of the time as they directly suggest ways of improving trust throughout your life.

  1. Integrity: act in accordance with your values and beliefs
  2. Intent: motivate from self-care and respect for others
  3. Capabilities: do what you’re capable of doing; promise only when you know you can deliver
  4. Results: create a track record of getting done what you’ve promised


Strive to act with congruence between intent and behavior. Be humble; concern yourself with what you believe to be right. Stand firm with principle, and have courage to act in accordance with your belief – especially when it’s difficult.

Note that this doesn’t mean being fanatical – there’s an emphasis on following common sense about taking care of yourself and others and avoiding harm. I often think about Tyler Cowen’s Stubborn Attachments in conjunction with this: seek betterment and do no irreparable harm.

Integrity “accelerators”

  • Make and keep comittments to yourself (eg. diet, exercise, rest)
  • Stand for something (eg. civics, intellectualism, family)
  • Be open (eg. new ideas, new people, self-evaluation)


Consider the motive for doing something: why do it? It’s a simple question with sometimes deep rationale. Understand that there’s a social and/or emotional cost when you don’t care – be transparent in these cases. In fact, always be transparent about your motives.

This pillar seems slippery to me. Partly, I feel that’s because there’s strong social pressues to pursue certain goals in life. A good example is earning a living; sometimes we have few choices in gaining material goods to live a good life. In my personal life I struggle daily with the fact that I don’t really care about software programming – yes, despite writing a blog! My intent is to learn interesting things and to gain a good living for my family. Being transparent about those motives makes the career a daily negotiation for me, and I struggle with it personally.

Advice on Improving Intent

  • Examine and refine your motives
  • Declare your intent
  • Choose abundance (eg. find goals that increase overall goods, love, trust, etc)


These are the talents, skills, knowledge, capacities, and overall abilities that enable us to perform with excellence. There’s a distinction, too: talents are unique strengths or abilities. Talen often comes naturally (eg, Lebron James is very tall and athletic), but also needs to be cultivated. Skills build upon talent; but skills also require effort and time.

Increasing Capabilities

  • Run with strengths and purpose
  • keep yourself relevant (eg. add new skills)
  • know where you’re going (eg. don’t spend effort and time on skills that don’t fit with your talent or your intent)


Results are the loudest pillar; it’s what people talk about and focus on the most. Critically, however, it’s important that you should avoid superficiality in highlighting results. If there’s not much behind the curtain, you’ll be embarasses and lose trust when people ask. It’s also very important to communicate results; if nobody knows that you’ve done what you set out to do, how do you expect them to expect more of the same?

This is our “resume” pillar, but do recognize that it’s got the others putting in 3/4 of the work behind it.

Improving results

  • Take responsibility
  • Expect to win
  • Finish strong

Trust Behaviors

Covey gives 13 behaviors that, when practiced, help increase trust in your personal and social life.

  1. Talk straight - about intent, capabilities, expectations
  2. Demonstrate respect - aim to show caring and concern for everybody
  3. Create transparency - be open, real, genuine, and tell the truth in a way people can verify
  4. Right wrongs - look to fix relationships and breaches in trust
  5. Show loyalty - treat people who have earned our trust as if they’re always present; give credit when credit due
  6. Deliver results - do this up front and make realistic comittments
  7. Get better - increase capabilities, including building trust with others; seek feedback, learn from mistakes, leverage “continue/start/stop” inquiries
  8. Confront reality - talk about tough issues head on
  9. Clarify expectations - for yourself and others
  10. Practice accountability - hold yourself accountable and hold other accountable
  11. Listen first - remove assumptions and gain understanding of others
  12. Keep committments - do what you said you would do
  13. Extend trust - practice these behaviors and encourage others in their practice of them

Content by © Jared Davis 2019-2020

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