One of the hardest things in business — any business, but startups in particular — is knowing who to trust.

Having grown up on the streets of Brooklyn – before it was cool – I used to think I knew people. That I had a sense others lacked. I was wrong. A least partially wrong. Sure, my instincts have served me well over the years. But they’re by no means infallible. I have made mistakes. Plenty of mistakes. As will you. Which is sort of the point.

When you do – make mistakes in judgement about people – don’t freak. It happens. Even to me.  

One of the most insidious and successful ways people can fool you is by fooling themselves. There are several personality disorders that describe people who are capable of compartmentalizing and locking away true feelings while presenting a seemingly perfect façade to themselves and others.

But that delusion will fracture in time, as it inevitably must. And when it does, that’s when you’ll see the truth – the inner self these people try so desperately to hide away so others can’t see the ugliness and insecurity that lies beneath the surface.

Know one thing. If it happens once, it will happen again. Like a ticking time bomb. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can work things out with people like that. You can’t. Their issues run too deep. And while you might very well find yourself in their crosshairs, their issues have nothing to do with you.

The thing is, nobody has infallible instincts about people. If you’re out there taking risks to advance your career and your business, you will trust some people who will end up disappointing you. That’s inevitable. It comes with the territory. That certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust anyone. That’s just throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Just remember, the sooner you find out the better. Good things will come of it. They always do. And you’ll be stronger and wiser for the experience.

The irony is, expecting perfection from yourself and your judgement sort of puts you in the dysfunctional camp. Don’t do that. Just face your imperfections, deal with it and have a few drinks. Everything will look brighter in the morning. Except for the hangover.

Image credit / Redfishingboat / Flickr