It’s safer to emotionally invest late. If we wait to give our best effort and then discover the other person with whom we need to partner is a jerk or is holding back their best, then we’ve spared ourselves pain and won’t look foolish.
The problem, of course, is that the other person is also likely playing it safe. They’re waiting to see if we’ll fully participate and give our best energy to the cause.
So, we move through our routines, waiting for the other person to give us some evidence that they care. Then, at the end of the day or project, when the result is mediocre and the experience is the same as all the days that preceded it, we can both give thanks that we didn’t go all in. Because doing so would have been a wasted effort.
In the end, however, it was each of us who caused the repetitive cycle of business as usual.
The common claim is that “people don’t care.” But this is not true. Plenty of people care. What’s rare is the person who goes all in early, who is strong enough in their autonomy to act on their caring independent of the circumstances around them.
If you emotionally invest early you will be vulnerable, of course. Not everyone will rise to your invitation of fullness. Others will criticize you for being foolish. But those people who cast such judgements fail to see what’s essential. From their veil of a life lived inauthentically they can’t see that, in fact, you are not vulnerable – because what you value most can’t be taken from you.
They also can’t see the reward which you gain by leaning forward: You are alive.
For those who go all in early, who emotionally invest in people and moments unconditionally: We stand and vigorously applaud. Your leadership changes us.
Hat tip: Mom