Want To Improve? Prepare To Look Stupid

When I first started to set goals, I had to look stupid doing it. I began publishing monthly goal videos on Youtube which outlined some goals I was working towards. Funny enough, a lot of those goals were things out of my control. I could’ve been more specific with them.

Beyond this, there were several other mistakes that I’ve made. I’ve pointed those out in many articles over the years.

Who in their right mind would start setting goals and begin to broadcast them on a public forum? That’s stupid. This is especially in the case where I was historically lazy and prone to losing motivation quickly.

At the time, I rationalized the decision, thinking that by announcing it in a public way, I’d create some accountability for myself. But what I realized from that experience later was that I needed to create accountability myself rather than pass that off to other people.

In the end, if you want to be improving you have to look stupid or clueless in the process. And while that’s easy to say, it’s much tougher to do. I could’ve stopped posting those goal videos because I was embarrassed by the results. I didn’t. I looked stupid by talking about how I failed and was optimistic that I’d achieve the goal next time.

We all have some ego and we much prefer to show the highlights and achievements over our failures. We get in our heads that somehow if we fail we’ll get mocked, labelled as a fraud, or simply look silly in the process. And all of that is okay.

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

When You Look Stupid, You Prepare For The Worst

They say that failure is part of the process. I’d like to expand on that idea to include that looking stupid is also part of the process too. When you fail, it’s usually because of an obvious mistake. We rationalize it by telling ourselves there is no way of knowing of course, but I’m of the mind that there are some things that could’ve been done differently.

Regardless, the idea that failure and looking stupid are part of the process is to remind ourselves that these are natural occurrences. They’re inevitable at times. But in a sense, the mentality helps you to ease into those emotions. To help you understand them.

Of course, failure and looking stupid is something we don’t inherently like. However, by telling ourselves these are natural and that they do happen, it lessens the blow for when failure does happen. When bad things do happen. It’s a reminder for yourself to be prepared and to focus on what can be done afterwards rather than wallowing in defeat or trying to save face.

After all, doing those things really doesn’t help with the recovery process.

You Bounce Back Faster

To expand on that previous point, thinking in this manner can remove some of the impacts of failure as well. Imagining yourself looking stupid while in the process of learning can help you to laugh at yourself. To poke fun at yourself.

I find often that failures are harder to overcome the more seriously that you take them. Poking fun at yourself is a good way of weakening that blow and not taking things seriously all the time. Every person is growing in their own way and each person is going to look stupid doing so.

It reminds me of instances of going to the gym. A gym is an intimidating place if you take it too seriously. You’re someone out of shape, working out around a group of swollen, fit and healthier individuals. Even though they’re not judging you, it feels like it is.

For me, all that anxiety from that melted away when I started to delve into personal training and the trainer I’m with is pointing out some of the positional mistakes people are making. It becomes easier for me to go there because I realize not everyone is super skilled. They’re all learning. Just like me.

Applying this same methodology in any pursuit in your life will serve as an opportunity to bounce back faster. The failure you experienced is something that many other people experienced before. And they too were looking stupid.

Learn, Grow, And Don’t Be Afraid

One of the biggest advantages you can create for yourself with learning is to not be afraid to look stupid. In school I never asked questions. Not so much because I wasn’t afraid to look stupid, but that I felt I knew everything and there was no reason to.

Ego is one of the biggest hurdles that we have when it comes to learning. As such, finding ways to tackle it and overcome it are ideal. One such method is this simple reminder that every person that is learning really has no idea what they are doing in the first place.

To your growth!

Eric S Burdon

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