Two Ways To Avoid Becoming a Cynic

There's a good reason why people become more cynical with age and why young people are more idealistic. EXPERIENCE. 

For example, if a contractor starts a job for a young person, say laying sod, and then doesn't show up for three days, the young person doesn't know what to think. And in their idealism, they are very forgiving. They do not yet have enough experience to understand what just happened.

The more "experienced" person, however, knows that "start and delay" is a frequently used tactic by many over-booked contractors to lock in jobs. In other words, they know it's just more hassle for you to change contractors in the middle of the job than work with the one dragging his feet.

The same thing happens when interviewees overstate their qualifications for a job, or employers overstate how great it is to work there, when a politician makes a promise they don't have the power to keep, or a company sells a product they won't service properly.

So after many repetitions of this cycle, we start to get cynical. All of us. No matter how old we are!

But that doesn't have to be the end of it. We can build a more realistic set of expectations about people. About how unpredictable they can and will be. And yes, deceitful.

I called this process "managing against the Fall." Sure. Love people and hope they will keep their promises. But always have a way to hold people accountable or walk away. President Reagan called this "trust but verify."

Our idealism will inevitably shrink over time, but here are two ideas to help us end up as a realists rather than cynics...

1. Forgive the one who sins against you. Always. That's a Jesus thing.

2. Don't put yourself in a position where you to forgive.

For example, for a good-sized job, never pay "in full" up front (a deposit is OK for a reputable firm). And never, ever make the final payment until they are "done done" (as in, once you hand them the check you're OK for them to drive away in their truck and never return). That's not cynical. That's just realistic.

And check those references and, if available, those google ratings.