“Never would I have predicted we would see the U.S. Capitol attacked like that!”
“No one could have seen THIS coming!!!”
“Ok, NOW we have gone too far!”
Maya Angelou tells us “whenever someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time,” and these words are true whether you like to recognize it or not. We have all been deceived by people in our lives. We have been deceived by ex-partners, by friends who turned out to not be quite so friendly, by bosses and colleagues and, of course, by politicians, CEO of big corporations, and the media.
Yet, I would be willing to bet that in a lot of those instances we simply ignored all the visible clues that were in front of our very own eyes.
The partner that we know cheated on their exes and habitually lies, and then turns out cheated on you too. The friend who talks crap about everyone “except you” and then stabs you in the back. The colleague who screws over someone else in the workplace while pretending to like you, only to screw you over next. The promoters and DJs who claim to want what is best for the scene, only to selfishly put it at risk with their events during a pandemic. A President who ignites and instigates a failed attempt coup on American democracy following four-plus years of lies and incendiary, divisive rhetoric.
The red flags were there. But they were ignored.
You don’t have to believe what people are saying, but you better believe that what they are saying and especially what they are doing says something important about them, who they are and how they will act.
We must believe them the first time they show us who they truly are before they wise up and hide their true colors.
These are lessons we must learn and not ignore.
Character is fate. Who we are, our beliefs and ideals, the moral standards we hold ourselves up to, the way we act towards others on a regular basis—these are by far the much better predictors of where our life is going than money, resources, social media likes and follow counts, popularity or anything else.
Remember: you cannot change someone else’s character, but you can recognize it for what it truly is, believing them when they show you who they really are the first time—not the second, the third or the 100th.
Most importantly, you can use this knowledge to shape your character, because that you can control. You can focus on your own traits and faults (we all have them!), addressing them so that you become the best person you can be.
Don’t make excuses for cheaters, liars, egomaniacs and fundamentally immoral people, even if they agree with you or their actions may benefit you in some way in the short term.
Whenever someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time.
The way you choose to act after that says something about you and not them