Monday Musing: Reliability and Trust in the Guide Law

Last week I talked about honesty in the context of the first Guide Law.

A Guide is honest, reliable and can be trusted.

I discussed what honesty is, how much honesty is enough, reasons for being honest, and who we should be honest with.

Today I’m going to talk about reliability and trust.  There’s a lot of overlap between these and honesty, so I’m hoping to get them both in one post!


Reliable, adjective.
: able to be trusted to do or provide what is needed
: able to be relied on
: able to be believed
: likely to be true or correct

What does it mean to be reliable?

In Shorinji Kempo, the martial art I practice, part of the philosophy is that you should “rely on yourself, and not on others, for no-one is as reliable as your own well-disciplined self”.

It doesn’t mean you should ignore everyone else and never ask for help, but that you should make yourself the most reliable person possible – because if you can trust yourself then others can trust you.  The idea is that if everyone strives to make themselves someone who can be relied on, then the whole world will be a better place.

I see the Guide reliability in the same way.  I should be able to rely on myself.  At the basic level, if I say I am going to take lunch to work, I shouldn’t need my husband to remind me to do it.  If I say I will email the answer to a question to someone, then I should email it.

If I promise the Brownies that I will arrange dragon boat racing, then darn it, we are going dragon boat racing.*

It’s about self-discipline.  It’s about self respect.  And it’s about respect for others.

There’s also an amount of overlap with honesty.  Look at the definition of reliable – “able to be believed, likely to be true or correct”.  Not only do I have to be honest about things, but I also have to know what I’m talking about.  If I don’t know the answer, I shouldn’t try to bluff my way through it.

And remember my question last week about correcting mistakes?  It looks like I do have to go back and admit my errors.

“I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.” ~ Abraham Lincoln


To Trust, verb.
1. To have or place confidence in; depend on.
2. To expect with assurance; assume: I trust that you will be on time.
3. To believe: I trust what you say.
4. To place in the care of another; entrust.
5. To grant discretion to confidently: Can I trust them with the boat?

A Guide can be trusted.  She can be trusted to do things she says she will do.  She can be trusted to tell the truth, and to not deliberately mislead people.

If you tell her a secret you can trust her not to tell anyone.

If she makes a promise you can trust her to keep it.

If you lend her your iPod you can trust that you will get it back.  And that when you do it will still work.

How do you know if someone can be trusted?  There is a lot of overlap here with honesty and reliability.  If someone is reliable, they will do what they say.  If they are honest, they will say what they mean.  If an honest, reliable person tells you they’ll do someone, it is generally safe to trust that they will do it.


What does all this mean?

For me, personally, it means leading by example.  If I strive to be honest, to be reliable, to be a person who can be trusted, then my Brownies will see that.  They will know that if I say something, I mean it – from promised rewards all the way to threatened punishments.  I hope that we will build better relationships as a result.

If they see that I am a happy, confident person, who is honest and reliable, then they might draw connections from that – that honesty and happiness go hand in hand, that reliable people are better to be around (and therefore likely to have more friends).  They might become inspired to be more honest in their own lives.

That’s all I can ask for really.


* Actually, one of the other leaders volunteered to organise that.  So I’m off the hook.  But my point is still valid.


2 thoughts on “Monday Musing: Reliability and Trust in the Guide Law

    1. True… To an extent. Delegating to someone you know is also reliable, or delegating and then checking on occasionally, is taking responsibility. But delegating to someone you know won’t do anything is not.

      Also I think you have to consider why you’re delegating. Is it because you genuinely don’t have the time or skill, or because you can’t be bothered?

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