One of the most important lessons that life has taught me is the fact that people are never who they say they are. I know it is extreme to say NEVER but I recommend this thinking because with it we are safe and never sorry. I will base my explanation on a biblical line which says ‘You shall know them by their fruits‘ and a literary theme, from the book Great Expectations, ‘appearance vs reality‘.
An ‘appearance‘ is normally the first impression that we get about people which is normally based on what they say, what they wear, how they interact etc. It is also the ‘person’ that one projects in the public who in most cases is very different from the private person. This person is also a reflection of the values that one seeks to be but which more often than not are crushed by the domineering ‘private’ person. While knowing this public person can provide good indicators of whom one really is, it is unwise to base your conclusion about them based on an ‘appearance‘.
This is very important especially when deciding to make critical life decisions such as entering into a business partnership. Some life decisions, like entering into a business partnership, do not need you to wait to comprehend a person fully. If you have to make them quickly then you should simply never assume you know someone because if you do you are more likely to put all your cards in one basket without realizing that there are unknown factors that may need you to keep some cards close to your chest.
‘Reality‘ is something we see and understand as we go. It is like the fruit. A fruit does not grow on a tree in one day but needs time sometimes years until we can effectively call a mango tree, a mango tree. It is the fruit that defines the function and character of a plant. In a similar manner it is how one behaves over a long period of time that defines one’s character and reputation. We need to wait long enough to discover this fruit knowing that somethings can never be hidden. About this fact Herbert Pocket says to Pip in great expectations
“…because if is a principle of his that no man who was not a true gentleman at heart, ever was, since the world began, a true gentleman at manner. He says, there is no varnish can hide the grain of the wood, and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself.” (pg. 197)
Time is like the varnish that allows grain to express itself. Sadly I know of a beautiful couple that went into business with a business partner who ripped them of capital worth 1 million dollars which they raised after selling off some of their property. They also lost their peace and dream in the process. I know you also lose a lot of social capital in terms of the relationships that would have been built, the time you put and personal resources you use. There are more stories like this in business. These are real life stories that are painful however in some cases people have let go of the right people in their lives, who could have made the best business and even life partners.
I can conclusively say that you owe it to yourself to take time before you put your full trust or even make negative conclusions about any one. Never assume you really know people…sometimes they do not even know themselves. It is important to invest in the art of reading and understanding people as part of building your decision making skills.