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Trust Redux

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

“My first book,’To Engineer Is Human,’ was prompted by non engineer friends asking me why so many technological accidents and failures were occurring. If engineers knew what they were doing, why did bridges and buildings fall down? It was a question that I had often asked myself, and I had no easy answer.” ~Dr. Henry Petroski, Professor and Author

“If we have built on the fragile cornerstones of human wisdom, pride, and conditional love, things may look good for a while, but a weak foundation causes collapse when storms hit.” ~Dr. Charles Stanley, Pastor

The August 14th collapse of the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy accompanied by many deaths reminded me afresh of the fragility of the human condition as well as the risks we all unwittingly take every day based upon trust in the actions (and motivations) of others. At the time of writing, an investigation is underway. It will likely conclude that human failure played a major role in this disaster.

Mary and I relate primarily because we attended a symposium in northern Italy last year at which time we drove the A10 Highway that connects to the Morandi bridge. While we came very close to crossing it, we did not. However, had our itinerary included Genoa, I am certain we would have crossed it without any qualms based upon the (unconscious) assumption it was safe. Unfortunately, many people lost their lives because that assumption proved false.

Unwitting risk-taking ending in disaster brought to mind one of the more stressful incidents of my investment career. In 2008, in conjunction with the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown, the non-bank Asset Backed Commercial Paper market in Canada collapsed. Many on Bay Street (my firm included) were affected. The foundation of the ABCP market was the AAA rating accorded this paper by rating agencies. Investors (including many sophisticated players like ourselves) trusted the ratings without looking under the hood!

In prior posts, I have often commented on the link between trust and risk taking. Today, my focus is the foundation upon which we build our lives.

Prior to becoming a follower of Jesus and to the extent I gave any thought to the concept, my foundation was self confidence. While this perspective undoubtedly helped me feel in charge, feelings don’t equal facts. As illustrated by the Morandi bridge collapse, none of us has complete control over her or his life. The ultimate proof lies in the reality that none of us can escape physical death. Notwithstanding, I note there is currently a global project called “transhumanism,” the goal of which is to defeat death through technological advances!

Anyhow, after entrusting my life to Jesus, I lost my fear of death. Why? According to the Bible, God cares about me so much He sent His Son to die in my place that I might spend eternity with Him. What a wonderful promise from the only One who has both the moral perfection and the power to keep these promises! According to the Bible, Jesus is the ultimate cornerstone. He stands in stark contrast to any cornerstone constructed by us or others.

What is your foundation?

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.