Things I wish I knew

For a couple of years now, I’ve been posting things I learned as a way of cultivating curiosity.[0]

But this year I’ve stumbled upon a different sort of thing I want to train myself to notice: things I wish I knew.

I find myself somewhat embarrassed to post these. But why? Probably because I feel like if I were truly motivated, I would be able to figure them out.

I think this is the wrong instinct. Someone out there almost definitely knows the answer to them and there’s a chance they just swing along and tell me. In that case, I’m better off. And some of the most impactful projects I’ve seen first hand have begun with someone wondering, “why is this the way that it is?”

Since sifting my thoughts for these, I’ve found them to be way harder to capture. I’ve had 2-3 hit me and then disappear, only for me to be unable to locate them again. This almost never happens to me with “things I learned.” I wonder why that is?

Now, for my first one:

I wish I understood how individual trust is converted into group/institutional trust and how group/institutional trust converts into societal trust. I feel like I have a good idea on how an individual creates or destroys trust, but don’t think I understand how it converts for a team the size of a small company (say ~25-40 people), let alone a large company (thousands of people) or a society. Say you’re the mayor of a small city and you think a high trust society is important. Is it possible to do anything to foster this? How does it work?

My hypothesis: I assume it’s some combination of credibility, reliability, and lack of self interest. So when people see society work (e.g., civic institutions function well, utilizing judgment, being able to be counted on) and that individuals aren’t profiting at the expense of the group, civic trust goes up. But… I could be wrong. If you feel like you definitively understand this, reach out: at gmail dot com.

[0]: I’ll probably keep doing that, because why not? It’s super fun.