History has a habit of repeating itself.
Several years ago when I was an up and coming financial adviser I knew there were some shady characters on the loose in the industry. In fact, the governing bodies and the ethics councils made it clear that they wished to know if we, as advisers, noticed anything out of sorts. This form of self policing is pretty effective when you know you are being scrutinized by a governing body and virtually everyone with whom you are in competition.
I supposed you could imagine my surprise when I learned one of my best friends from grade school and high school – who was himself a financial adviser – was charged and convicted with fraud after bilking his clients for almost $400,000.
It wasn't the easiest thing to face knowing someone with whom I had been close was guilty of such a crime. It's just not a thought that goes through my mind when I'm associating with people. What motivates someone who seemed to have everything going for them to do such a thing to other people? It's beyond my comprehension, no matter how I try to discern the thought process that would lead someone I trusted down such a path. Quite frankly, I just don't get it, you know?
It seems it has all happened again.
It is a different friend and a different accusation. The emotions attached are the same; shock and disbelief. This was someone I worked with in my professional life and on committees. It was someone I admired for their creativity. It was someone I hung out with on occasion and attended parties with. It was someone many of my friends know and I am sure felt similarly about him as I did. He was someone I admired.
Trust the dog and everyone else is suspect.
When events like this come to light, I tend to turn inward and wonder who it is I can trust. Both instances set me back. If I can't trust people who are this close, who can I trust? Is my judgment that far off the mark? I wouldn't have chosen either of these men to commit the crimes they had. (Albeit one guilty and the other innocent until proven otherwise.) Both I would label as nice guys and upstanding citizens.
I consider myself to be a nice guy (mostly) and an upstanding citizen. How do people look at me? Guilty by association? Do I get sideways glances I am unaware of? Do people trust me? These are all thoughts that run through my head at times like these.
What makes me immune to scrutiny?
I think I still have to trust. I have to be able to put some faith in people. I have to trust my gut to determine whether someone is a threat to me or not. I have to be able to allow myself to be seen by others without fear of consequence. It's not an easy thing trusting others. It's the bravest thing we will ever do. And yet, without that bravery, we are no more than an empty shell living an empty life on a deserted island of our own making.
The jury is still out about my feelings around this latest revelation. It's a big deal and something that is diametrically opposed to virtually everything I stand for. I can't seem to get a grip on the dichotomy between what I thought I knew and what I now know. Of course, it's still fresh yet it's a conundrum all the same.
Its scope is perception altering.
The best I can do is trust myself to know to whom I bare my soul and to whom I close the iron door. In the end, that trust in myself, is all I have.