I have a long history of misjudging people. When I owned a business, and even before, when I managed organizations and was responsible for staffing them, my “gut feel” meter was wrong about half the time. It might have been wrong even more frequently, but I have no way of knowing. When I opted not to consider a job candidate because he or she just didn’t feel right, I assumed I was right about the person. When I offered a job to people who struck me as being worthy, I might as well have been flipping a coin. Several people I hired turned out to be inept, incompetent, unreliable, or downright criminal; sometimes, I was just bad at judging people.

My batting average outside the business world is not much better. People I initially find interesting and engaging can turn out to be dullards. If I feel a particular sense of kinship with a person I meet, or with whom I have the opportunity to spend a good deal of time, the chances are relatively high that I will discover that my original assessment was wrong.  On the other hand, a lot of those people turn out to be just as I expected or even better.  I wonder how many people, who I’ve written off early for one reason or another, would have become lifelong friends, if I’d just given them a chance? I’m tempted to re-engage, sometimes, but I question whether, with my success rate, that would be a good idea.

And I wonder how many people who originally thought I was a guy worth knowing changed their minds after spending time with me? On the other hand, did some people write me off, only to change their minds later?

The lesson in this, I suppose, is that snap judgments are unreliable. Or it could just be me.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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