Trust But Verify

Sage ReddyHappiness, Health, Wealth22 Comments

“I want to buy your snow tires. They are perfect for me. I just don’t have the money to pay you right now. Can I pay you at the end of the month?” the buyer informs us on the phone. What do you say to that?

Most normal people would say, “Sorry, call me when you have the money.”

I, being less than normal, respond with, “I’ll think about it.” The woman is responding to our Craigslist ad. She’s poor and desperate. Her tires are about to go out on her. Without wheels she won’t be able to get to work. Without work, she won’t be able to put food on her family’s table.

What would you do?

My head says, “Wait for the right buyer, someone who’ll pay you right away. Don’t trust a stranger. That would be foolish!” My heart says, “Here’s a good person, living hand-to-mouth, and she’s struggling to make ends meet. Are you going to be cold and callous? Or are you going to have some heart?”

What would you do?

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

When it comes to selling these darn snow tires, my wife and I are caught between a rock and hard place. In other words, we’re torn between our heads and our hearts, each pulling us in different directions. Who should we go with? Who should we believe? Who’s right?

“What if you don’t keep your word?” I ask her.

“I’m a good Christian. I will keep my word,” she says.

Great, but her eyes don’t seem so sure. I’ve been burnt before when I trusted strangers and don’t care for a repeat performance, thank you very much. What if she runs off with our tires and we never see her again? Who’s got the time to track her down and resolve the issue? What if she has good intentions, but won’t be able to keep her word? What does my gut say? You know, gut instincts.

Instincts are great. Problem with instincts is we often mistake raw emotions for genuine instincts. I trust my instincts, but what if I’m not currently in touch with ’em?

What would you do in a situation like this?

I’ll tell you what we do: we go with our hearts, but decide to use our heads as well (just in case).

First, we ask for and obtain the title to her car. (I can’t imagine it’s worth much.) Second, we ask for and obtain a post-dated check. (The woman insists that she wants to pay in cash at the end of the month, however. Hmmm.) In any case, she’s profusely thankful. Then, with gratitude writ all over face, she loads up the tires in her friend’s truck and drives off. If we never see her again, I’m OK with that. She’ll have to answer to her own conscience.

End of the month arrives. It’s a moment of reckoning. Will she or won’t she? I’m about to find out if I’ve made a complete fool of myself.

The Moment Of Reckoning

But what do you know? She shows up at our door in her friend’s truck, comes in and forks over the money. Not all of it, but most of it. With tired eyes she then asks if we would trust her to pay the rest of the amount (about $15) next month.

“Of course,” Becca and I respond in unison. I’m looking forward to returning her post-dated check and car title next month.

The gratitude on her face? Priceless. My faith in humanity? High as ever.

Both in your business and personal dealings, you’ll frequently be torn between your head and your heart. When you do, you don’t have to take sides. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Both your head and your heart can win.

Contrary to popular belief, the “heart” is not just about feelings and emotions. Metaphysically speaking, your heart is really the part of you that transcends both intellect and emotion. Your heart knows–if you listen to it.

But just because your heart knows it all doesn’t mean your head is useless. Your heart’s message is only as good as your ability to listen to it. If you can’t listen to your heart (or don’t know how), you’ll mistake your emotions for your heart. That’s precisely where your head comes in.

As a symbol of intellect, your head is like your watchdog. It is your sentinel of cool reason in a sea of wild emotions. Give it a chance, and your head will always lookout for you.

Trust your heart, but always use your head to verify.

In short, “trust but verify.” Which also happens to a signature phrase adopted and made famous by U.S. president Ronald Reagan.

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22 Comments on “Trust But Verify”

  1. Hi Sage, this post was really insightful. I like when you said “Trust your heart, but always use your head to verify.” I think this is the key to helping you find the balance between emotions and logic when making choices in life. I am happy the women keep her word and paid for the snow tires.
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
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  2. My boyfriend and I recently bought a car off of craigslist and if it wasn’t for “trust, but verify”, we would still be getting by with one car. When we looked at the car, the seller wasn’t in possession of the title, although he was the legal owner. (He had to wait — up to 8 weeks! — for title to be issued by the state since the car was a salvage). We also didn’t have the cash to pay him the entire amount at once. And, neither of us wanted to wait for 8 weeks for the title to arrive, so we struck a deal. We wrote up a sales contract that specified the agreement we reached and both signed it. Then, we gave him a bit more than 1/2 of the money, with the rest due with delivery of the title. And then we drove off in his car! 4 weeks later, we get a call that the title has arrived and we met up again and exchanged money for the title. I think the most interesting part of the story, though, is that we made new friends in the deal.

    Yes, it’s possible to get taken by people and never see your money. But this happens even between businesses that seem otherwise trustworthy (in fact, one big online business still owes me $200 in affiliate commissions even though I’ve called them repeatedly about it over the last 2 years!). Personally, I don’t want to do business with people that I can’t trust. And if the price of learning that is losing a bit of money, that is money well spent in my opinion (like that company that owes me money — I don’t recommend them anymore and if you ask me specifically about them, I’ll even tell you why. Great product, I’d love to be able to recommend them, but if they aren’t paying their affiliates, what else are they hiding?)

    1. Hello Lesa! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Each time you comment, I feel like I know you a little better. I appreciate your candor and excellent stories. I too relish situations where I end up befriending a total stranger, thanks to a complicated transaction. And I love this line: “if the price of learning that is losing a bit of money, that is money well spent in my opinion.” Ha! I couldn’t agree more. Sure, business is best when it’s drama-free, but we don’t have to give up our humanity in the process. As for not getting paid affiliate commissions, I’d be a fool to work with someone like that again. Business or personal, it all comes down to trust, doesn’t it? I hope you’re having a good day!

  3. Sage lovely story. However, as much as I believe in trusting your gut instinct I also think (I’ve learnt the hard way) that business is business.

    It’s too easy to hire someone’s services and not pay them. I know, I’ve been owed over $30,000 through the years of being in business.

    I have a new business model, if people don’t pay me upfront I don’t work with them. It’s simple and it avoids me having to chase people for money as well. It does mean not everyone will work with me (and they’re then having to trust me to do the work, a little contractory I know!) but it’s the only way I’ll work now.

    It’s so much easier, although it’s a shame that I’ve had to resort to this way as I can be a trusting person but I think business needs to be kept as business.
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      1. Good to hear from you, Alan. Nice story or not, business is business. In business, “pay upfront” makes perfect sense. It keeps everything simple and drama-free.

    1. I hear you, Lilach. Once bitten, twice shy. I think having someone pay upfront is just as valid a model. Business is business, and if we forget that, we shouldn’t be in business. It keeps things simple and takes all the headaches. Besides, if someone can’t afford what you have to offer, do they really need it?

  4. Hi Sage,

    What a nice story! I have to be honest and say if I were in the same situation, I probably would have said no. I wouldn’t have thought to ask for any documentation as a reference either. Now thanks to this post, if I am faced with a similar circumstance, I won’t be so quick to say no. I will use my head and my heart to make a decision.
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    1. Indeed Stacy. Anyone can take the all-or-nothing approach, but balance is where it’s at. Living a balanced life is like walking a tightrope. It’s not easy in the beginning, but make a habit of it and it is easy. But you know that already. 🙂

  5. Hi Sage,
    Awesome! When it works out right and people show honesty it is powerful and reinforces what your heart knows – there are people out there that want to do right if given the chance. It also knows the other truth as well. But, there is that something special about giving chances even when intellect thinks too much on it. Some need our chance even when others want to abuse it.

    Great post my friend!
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    1. Good to see you here again, Joe. And thanks for your excellent comments and good words. Indeed, it is good to rise above our “I know it all” intellect. Besides, God knows we all need a second chance.

  6. Your words, “I don’t have to choose between the head and the heart” makes me so happy. I don’t have to give up either part. Both sides are valid.

  7. Great topic, I agree its important to make the right decisions whether our decisions are based on heart or the head. There may be times when it becomes difficult to decide whether to listen to the heart or the head but ultimately we have to listen to both and then take the right decision.

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