Genealogy Strategic Plan: Always Set Trust as the Primary Goal in Your Genealogy, Ancestry, and Family History
In some of my past posts here at Onward To Our Past® I have spoken about how important it is to begin your genealogy, ancestry, and/or family tree work with a solid genealogy strategic plan and provided the nine steps in creating your own Genealogy Strategic Plan. You can find all nine steps right here on the Onward To Our Past® website by putting “Genealogy Strategic Plan” in the search box (be sure to use the quotation marks to limit your results). Today I am going to add a crucial first step in your efforts: Build Trust!
If you have been following me here and on our Facebook page for Onward To Our Past® you know that I am, along with being a Genealogical Historian, a fan of the rock group The Moody Blues. Quite often when I think of genealogy, ancestry, and family history, in my mind I hear The Moody Blues’ song “The Dream” written by Graeme Edge. This lovely musical piece ends with the line “Live hand-in-hand and together we’ll stand on the threshold of a dream”, which I think is a perfect image for our work. But the real question is: How do you create those ‘hand-in-hand’ moments?
The answer is easy. We must create trust. Open, honest, transparent, patient, and equal trust.
I have another of my favorite quotes that I believe helps, and works well with, our need to create, nurture, build, nourish, and protect trust in our genealogy work. It is from Nobel laureate Albert Camus: “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
On the surface the paramount issue of creating trust in our work may seem self-evident, but I have discovered that it is anything but that with many folks. While I know this is true in any industry or undertaking, inasmuch as we are working with family, history, and ancestry it is even more crucial that we are open, honest, truthful, and trustworthy in every aspect of our work. Let me just give a few examples that I have encounter in my work:
- If you are going to publish your family tree somewhere for public access, perhaps on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, or MyHeritage.com, then you must tell those whose information you are seeking that their information will become available and freely accessible.
- If you are seeking information while conducting research for a publication, article, book, etc. then you need to be open and upfront with the folks you are soliciting and inform them that your true purpose is for publication. This is especially true if you are operating in a chatroom or message board seeking such information and input.
- If you are conducting your genealogy for your personal religious purposes, then you need to be open and honest and inform anyone you will be collaborating with of this fact. I am not saying here that there is anything untoward with this purpose, I am just saying I am sick and tired of it so often being kept behind a veil of secrecy.
- If you come across a photograph on the web, perhaps on FindAGrave, Google Images, or any other website, then you must contact the owner of that image and ask permission to use it. Aside from common courtesy, there are the legal issues embedded in copyright laws of the United States and also other countries, and it is also called stealing. Simply because an image is online does NOT make it free for the taking. Just ask some of the terrific photographers out there, such as Steve Joyce, what kind of a problem this can be!
- If you want to lift wording, sections, or segments from a website, blog, Facebook page, etc. that is well and good IF you provide clear and obvious attribution. You absolutely owe it to the author/creator to list the link, footnote, and/or attribution and credit for their work product. Again, to not do so is stealing, not to mention another violation of copyright laws.
- If you find an error or mistake in someone’s work, do not cop attitude right away. Make your first contact kindly and under the assumption that the mistake might be just that …. nothing more than an honest mistake. As my Nana used to say ‘you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar’ so taking the friendly, high road at first may result in your desired outcome far quicker and easier than if you jump in with anger.
- Always remember that not everyone is a fanatical about genealogy, ancestry, and family history as we are! This fact brings to mind another of my favorite quotes, this one by Michelle Ventor “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you will know exactly what to do.” We need to heed this advice and remember that trust is not something we can simply hand off to someone. It is something that is in the eye, ears, and mind of the recipient, not the one who imparted it. We can do our best to establish trust, be trustworthy, and trustful, but it is others who will determine if we deserve their determination that we are worthy of their trust.
- Likewise it is with the need to remember that our timetables are ours alone. Often times I find myself in a self-imposed, hurry-up mode. At times, I find myself trying to force everything to come together in my timeframe for my reasons. I learned the hard way that this can be very damaging to one’s long-term genealogy goals as it can damage the building of trusting, valubable relationships. Building trusting relationships in our genealogy efforts, as in so much of life, is crucial to our success! Building a fine, trusting relationship takes time! It demands some of our time, but mostly it needs the time of other folks and the trust gets built by the other half of the partnership, so we must move at a speed that is at their comfort level, not ours. Trusting relationships will bring us untold benefits. Just recently I had reason to re-engage with a distant cousin. Our initial efforts were fine, but cool. Cordial, but not what I might call going out-of-the-way helpful. This time, however it was different. This time, now that I had called a few times in-between, sent occasional emails, and our weekly Family Update, the trust level was established and the help flowed! I was suddenly blessed with stories, corrections, suggestions, and even some wonderful photographs! All of which in earlier times had been unattainable to me.
So, remember, take time. Create the relationship. Build the trust. Relish the outcomes!
Having and holding trust as the first and foremost guidepost in your genealogy will be something you will benefit from each and every day hereafter!
Onward To Our Past®