"Stupid" is a fear-based self-perception that limits our potential.
BY ROY HARRYMAN
I remember growing up in the 70s and 80s seeing the “I’m with stupid” t-shirts everywhere. Maybe they’re still around.
In his book, “What to do When it’s Your Turn,” Seth Godin points out that most of us are obsessed with a fear of looking stupid.
This fear stops us in our tracks. It prevents progress.
The paradox is this: We remain stupid because we fear looking that way.
Ever refuse to ask a question because you don’t want to feel foolish? We keep nodding our heads in agreement during an explanation we fail to grasp. We forget a name and refuse to seek a simple reintroduction.
No one must know that we don’t have it all together.
“Stupid is the way we feel when working on a difficult problem,” Godin says. “Stupid is the emotion associated with learning – we are stupid and then we are not.”
Stupid is a harsh word and Godin isn’t calling anyone names. He’s honestly relating how we feel. We are not stupid and should not see ourselves or others that way. A more accurate description would be that we are lifelong learners (if we indeed choose to be). We are constantly in training (if we allow ourselves to be).
There is not really a stupid. There is just a before and after.
Mario Livio’s book “Brilliant Blunders” (confession: I have not read it, only summaries) details significant mistakes of Charles Darwin, William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Linus Pauling, Fred Hoyle and Albert Einstein.
“These five scientists expanded our knowledge of life on earth, the evolution of the earth, and the evolution of the universe, despite and because of their errors,” says Amazon.com.
“Stupid” is the secret sauce of success. You must break it to make it.
What task is the “S word” preventing you from attempting?
- Giving a speech?
- Meeting someone for coffee?
- Losing weight?
- Changing jobs?
It’s time to cast off the pretension that we’re something we’re not. Just dive in. When you come out, the stupid will be in the past … until your next learning opportunity.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Godin says. “Nothing except the feeling of stupid. And stupid is a good thing.”