The Joy of Feeling Stupid

Posted by on June 23, 2019

When’s the last time you felt stupid? I don’t mean making-a-mistake stupid. I mean, like what-the-heck-am-i-even-doing kind of stupid?

While it’s human nature to not like feeling stupid, let me shine a new light on the joys of feeling stupid.

Feeling stupid means you’re:

  • Outside your comfort zone
  • Facing a challenge in which you’re not an expert
  • Learning something new
  • Challenging the status quo
  • Not the smartest person in the room

Comfort Zone

When you stay safely in your comfort zone, you avoid a lot of feeling stupid.

You also avoid a lot of growing, developing and expanding yourself.

When you enter the feel-stupid zone, you:

  • Open your mind to new possibilities
  • Put yourself on the steepest part of a learning curve
  • Come face-to-face with your inner demons that hold you back
  • Sharpen your focus
  • Stretch your perception of your limitations

And, the truth is, sometimes you will fail.

But that’s OK too, because it’s part of growing as a person.

Failure is not optional

It’s unfortunate that ‘failure’ has such a bad association, because in life and nature, it’s part of the process of improvement and innovation.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work

Thomas Edison

Albert Einstein adds: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

Fear of failing, looking or feeling ‘stupid’ stunts our growth, virtually denying us the very things we want the most – success.

Not the smartest person in the room

You’ve heard that when you become the smartest person in the room it’s time to find a new room, right?

It’s the kind of quip that makes for good leadership meme fodder, but how often is it actually practiced? Most of us have worked hard in our lives, our profession, to be accomplished. To be ‘smart’ in our trade.

A logical, albeit self-sabotaging measure of being smart, is how we compare to others around us. Small leap from there to developing an unconscious preference to be around people ‘less smart’ than ourselves. Which is nothing less than a race to the bottom – elevation by virtue of lowering the bar.

New possibilities

Want to continue growing?

  • Hang with people who are better than you.
  • Get comfortable feeling stupid
  • Push your boundaries
  • Accept failure
  • Never stop learning
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