By Tom Ehrich

When a friend invited me to sign up for Google+, I went along. He’s a smart guy, Google is a smart company. Maybe there’s something new and valuable here.

But as I explored Google+ — pronounced “Google Plus” — I began to wonder, “Is there any ‘there’ there?” It added nothing to Facebook and seemed mainly designed to increase Google’s access to my personal information and contacts — for their purposes, not mine.

I let my Google+ account languish. So, it seems, did most other early adopters. Now the smart guys and gals are saying Google has bet the company on Google+ and might be holding a lousy hand.

I don’t care one way or the other about Google’s fortunes. But this incident has affirmed one growing awareness: I need to trust my own instincts. If I doubt the value of a product, don’t just believe the hype and go along. If someone seems to be speaking nonsense, maybe they are. If someone promises more than they deliver, don’t count on them. Some days the emperor truly is naked.

This might be an easy discernment for some people. It isn’t easy for me. I have tended to be optimistic and accepting about people saying what they mean and “experts” knowing a lot. In fact, people lie, and common sense might see better than experts. Advertisers aren’t in the honesty business. Leaders generally want control and affirmation more than they want to serve.

I’m sure most of you figured this out long ago. But I am trusting my instinct, late-arriving or not, namely, discernment is worth the extra effort.