As I write this, Lance Armstrong has poured his heart out to Oprah but we haven’t seen the gory details yet. And it makes me think about the value of trust.

Trust is a remarkably powerful value. With trust we can let ourselves be vulnerable enough to embrace tougher challenges, learn more, reach further, laugh at ourselves, gain the support we need to achieve great things and so much more.

When the bond of trust is broken, it’s exceptionally hard to repair. And so it should be. Don’t get me wrong — while I’m a big believer in the value of trust, I also believe in forgiveness and second chances. But forgiveness really only works the first time trust is broken. If you break someone’s trust two times or more then you don’t understand trust at all, so really you shouldn’t be trusted.

Which brings me to Lance Armstrong. Oprah has already announced that he’s confessed to doping, lying and breaking the public’s trust. But millions of folks will still tune in to see the tears, the emotional confession, the reasons why he did it and all the reasons as to why we should trust him again.

Lance Armstrong lied and lied and lied, then lied some more. He broke the trust of his teammates, sponsors, sport federation, foundation, funders and of all of the public who admired him, his anti-doping stance and the Livestrong Foundation.

So when he confesses and, presumably, apologizes this week on Oprah’s TV network, does that mean we should trust him again?

This answer should be no, if we want to put any value on trust in our society.

Trust must be earned, trust must be held sacred and trust must not be broken (at least not more than once…).

So, if you decide to watch the full confessional and forgive the multiple lies and trust breaches of Lance Armstrong, consider the impact his lying and conning had on the people — especially the kids — who worshipped him. They will most certainly be left with the wrong idea about trust and a very confused moral compass.

An apology backed up by the power of celebrity is not a replacement for trust. Take a moment to think about who you trust in your life, why you trust them and what that means to you. Now think about what your life would be like if that trust no longer existed.

In order to live successfully, we need to trust our spouses, kids, employers, staff, families, friends, doctors, financial advisors and even our hairdressers to respect and honour the trust we place in them. If trust no longer has value, then who can you trust?

~ Maureen Douglas, CPF-IAF

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