How Trust is Like Jenga

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

On my grandparent’s farm there is an old horse stable that we store firewood in. To support the roof there was a post in the center from the ground to the roof. It was always in the way. When we would throw firewood in, it would hit the post and end up somewhere you weren’t intending and when you were carrying firewood out it was a real nuisance to have to go around it.

My Dad and I decided that the post had to go, but first we had to add some bracing to the rafters so that the roof would stay up. With a little know how, some fresh lumber and some slick carpentry skills we had everything braced and it was more stable than it had ever been.

All that was left to do was to remove the center post that had been the main support just a few minutes earlier, but would our bracing be enough to hold the roof up?

We were both standing in the shed, the post was cut and my Dad was ready to knock it out and our bracing would take over, but before he did I took a step backwards so that I was just outside of the shed.

My Dad asked “What are you doing? You don’t think the bracing is going to hold?” I replied “I’m sure it’ll be fine, but it sure would be stupid if it wasn’t and we were both crushed”.

He removed the post and the roof held and the stable is still standing up to this day. My precautionary step back wasn’t necessary, but it was still a good idea.

Trust can be like the game Jenga. In Jenga you start out with a solid tower, you could knock it over, but it would be tough. As you take blocks out and stack them on top your tower gets taller, but the more blocks you take out and the taller it gets the easier it is to knock it over and you’re left to start all over.

Sometimes trust is the same way. Usually you start by trusting someone with something small, something that won’t knock over your relationship. Then when you’ve built your relationship higher you trust them with something bigger, but the more you build your relationship and the more trust you give someone the greater the chance that your tower of trust gets knocked over.

There is really no way to solidify that tower. Trust is hard. There’s really no way to know if a person is trustworthy until you’ve trusted them with something and they didn’t break that trust. It’s not something you can fake.

I think the answer is building trust between yourself and multiple people and bringing those multiple people together in your life to create a community. When we build a community around us it’s like multiple Jenga towers intertwined with each other, making each one of them stronger and much more difficult to knock over.

How do you build trust?


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