ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

August 1998 / Special Feature : An Issue Of Trust

An Issue Of Trust

In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash

All You Ever Really Need To Know About Trust You Learned In Kindergarten

Furnishing Trust And Empowerment

Eight Organizational Strategies That Build Trust

Trust In Whom

by Peter Block
Trust Columns
John Schuster

Cliff Bolster
Joel Henning
Dan Oestreich
Felicia Seaton-Williams
Trust Interviews
Trapeze Artist
Emergency Room Physician

Air Traffic Controller
Police Officer
Park Ranger


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Book Review


Trust With The Greatest Of Ease
A Trapeze Artist's Spin on Trust

For Stephan Gaudreau trust involves ropes, harnesses, some chalk and a safety net. Gaudreau has been flying on the trapeze for twelve years in many different roles. As a professional trapeze artist, he has performed with Club Med’s Circus Guild, served as the lead flyer for the Flying Angels Troupe at Circus Circus in Reno, Nev., as well as several acts throughout Mexico, the Caribbean and the United States.
As a trapeze instructor, Gaudreau has worked with the San Francisco School of Circus Arts (Flying Trapeze program). Gaudreau is currently the president of Trapeze Arts, Inc. ( where he teaches beginning and advanced trapeze courses and workshops.

What is your definition of trust?
I would define trust, as far as trapeze goes, as when somebody gives trust to you—gives you all their power —and you take over their power. And they say, “OK, we’ll do this thing. I know this is safe. I know this could be dangerous but I’m going to trust you, I’m going to give all my power to you.”

What role does trust play in your profession?
Blind faith. Somebody will come to me and they’ve never touched a trapeze in their life. My role is to introduce them to something that is totally different. They have to just let go of their fears, their backgrounds and their genetics—their shape and size and age. It can be difficult when you have to do a lot of convincing. Some people see the height and say, “Oh my God I don’t think so, I don’t think I can deal with the height.” Getting them to accept blind faith will get them past this.

Without trust, what consequences would you face?
Some people take to it like a fish to water and other people you have to deal with their fears. In some situations you have people going halfway up the ladder and stopping. They don’t believe they can do this. It’s mostly the ladder and standing on the platform, for what seems like forever, that people can’t handle. We get a lot of sweaty palms.

How do you build trust?
Well, first we give them a speech where we say, “When you do this you have to listen. Everything is controlled; we control the situation. Even if you make a mistake or do something silly we’ll catch you with the harness and safety lines and you’ll fall in the net as safely as possible.” Some people are really tough to get to. You’ve got to talk them into it. You just give them more information and instruction. You tell them exactly what is going to happen in a very soft voice. You have to have a soft voice. I’ve had people say to me, “You have such a soft voice. It helped me so much.” You make them feel like it’s absolutely nothing. Then most people can do it.

Can trust be repaired? If so, how?
Yeah, you certainly can repair the trust, but it’s a slow process. If somebody has lost total faith in themselves, you’ve got to go back to square one and start from scratch. You have to go deeper into their soul, their psyche, to reach them and try to get them to try again—to get back on the horse if you fall off. Rebuilding that trust is more of a psychological session. Trying to figure out deep down what the underlying problem is—like a psychologist.

August '98 News for a Change | Email Editor

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