When You’re Afraid To Look Stupid, You Look Stupid | Nick Lechnir
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
The greatest problem that we struggle with today is not social media.
It isn’t capitalism, commercialism, politics, or the government.
It’s insecurity, fear of looking stupid, and being excluded from groups.
Do you believe me? It’s true.
I mean who doesn’t want to be accepted and feel like they belong to a group?
Even loners want to belong to a family or have at least one or two close friends to confide in when they need someone.
However, you might find it challenging to be liked and trying to live within an idealistic frame of mind.
What do I mean by that? I mean, you may be trying to align your thoughts and actions with your values, and also wanting everyone to like or respect you for saying the right things at the same time.
Well, guess what. It ain’t gonna happen.
I had a shop teacher in high school. I was afraid to ask questions because he would do one thing that bugged me all the time. Every time I’d ask a question, he’d turn it back on me, and say “What do YOU think?” And my answer was always “Well, I don’t know what I think. That’s why I’m asking you!”
I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and look stupid.
But what I didn’t realize at the time was that he was trying to teach me a very valuable life skill. He was trying to teach me critical thinking skills–to think on my own. He was trying to teach me to be comfortable with my own answers, and not be afraid to look stupid.
What’s the old adage? “When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.”
It goes along with trying to find answers from everyone else, and not trusting your own answers. Your answers might make you look stupid.
Wanting approval comes from way back in our childhood. We all wanted approval from our parents, teachers, siblings, friends, love interests, coaches, and mentors. No one wants to look stupid in front of authority figures or people we are trying to impress.
When you really needed approval, was it always there? Not likely. It often doesn’t happen at the right times, or it doesn’t happen at all.
You find out eventually that people are just human. Even authority figures and guardians are looking for the same thing–answers–security. They also look for approval from their partners, colleagues, spouses, and leaders.
Sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don’t.
They might not want to admit it, but they also struggle with insecurity and self-doubt all the time.
Insecurity can rear it’s ugly head in a variety of forms.
It may cause you to work on projects you’re not excited about. It might have you obsessing over problems and regrets that you can’t change anymore.
Alan Watts wrote a book called The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety. He explains that we live in an age of unprecedented anxiety. Spending all our time trying to anticipate and plan for the future and lamenting the past, we forget to embrace the here and now.
We are so concerned with tomorrow and yesterday that we forget to enjoy today. Drawing from Eastern philosophy and religion, Alan Watts shows that it is only by acknowledging what we do not and cannot know that we can learn anything truly worth knowing.
In The Wisdom of Insecurity, he shows us that in order to lead a fulfilling life, we must embrace the present and live fully in the now.
The unhealthy need for approval and obsession with insecurity is fueled by unhealthy emotions: guilt, shame, anger, and blame.
None of these emotions are a healthy foundation for relationships with yourself or other people.
Another book called The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living by Dr. Russ Harris explains that the way most of us go about trying to find happiness ends up making us miserable, driving the epidemics of stress, anxiety, and depression.
By clarifying your values and developing mindfulness, a technique for living fully in the present moment, helps you escape insecurity and find true satisfaction in life.
If you want to live a life of purpose, you’ll need to let go of your need for always wanting and needing approval. You’ll need to be willing to follow your instincts and learn to figure things out on your own without the fear of looking stupid. It’s the only way to become truly self-sufficient.
If you trust yourself and the way you feel, you’ll find that the truth was always there… if you’ll be honest with yourself.
If you must talk to someone and get some real input or perspective, have the courage to spend some time with that person and have a real conversation over coffee or lunch.
It takes practice. It also takes effort in self-care and self-love. If you truly love and respect yourself, you’ll deal with the difficulty of being honest with yourself, even if it is painful.
If you don’t face painful truths and try to correct them, you will inevitably repeat negative patterns in the future, and you can’t afford to waste time doing that.
Your time in this world will be gone in the blink of an eye.
You don’t need to live the rest of your life in fear of what others think.
Relationships are meant to be deep, genuine, personal, and authentic. And yes, they are also painful. Conflict is inevitable and it’s necessary to grow. It’s also healthy, and one of the surest ways to intimacy.
When conflict arises, the only thing you should be concerned with is getting clarity and moving on with whatever you are working on. Too many times, people think conflict means hostility, shouting, defensiveness, and abuse.
People who are afraid of conflict or think of it in the wrong way are missing the whole point.
The only way to be secure in who you are comes from believing in your convictions and values for the right reasons–because you know they are true and worth standing up for.
I may not believe in what you believe, but I can respect you for what you believe, as long as you don’t force your beliefs on me.
Stephen R. Covey once explained that abundance comes from being internally secure. He said “Security represents your sense of worth, your identity, your emotional anchorage, your self-esteem, your basic personal strength or lack of it.”
When you truly believe and know who you are, then you can act with complete honesty and genuineness. You won’t come off desperate or fake. If you don’t succeed in your plans, life will go on.
You will eventually attract opportunities and relationships that resonate with someone that sees your perspective. Keep trying.
It is absolutely ridiculous when people avoid asking for advice because they don’t want to look incompetent or stupid.
Yet, research from Harvard Business School found that when you ask people for help, directions, or advice, it actually makes other people believe you’re MORE competent.
We are human.
We make mistakes.
We are imperfect.
We have memory problems at all ages.
There is no sense in pretending otherwise.
Embrace your flaws.
Dare to be transparent.
Admit your insecurities, and in doing so, you can gain confidence and security.
You can’t please everyone. So, there is no sense in thinking that way.
You’re going to fail a lot. Everyone does. Get used to it.
Picasso created thousands of pieces of art, and only a few are considered to be his great works.
Edison had almost 2000 patents, and we only recognize a handful of them.
Perfectionism breeds procrastination. If you wait to achieve perfection, nothing would ever get done.
Life is a series of refinements.
It isn’t about you and your insecurities.
It’s not about approval or disapproval.
It’s about overcoming fear of failure.
It’s about getting over fear of looking incompetent and stupid.
With security comes courage.
With courage comes confidence.
With confidence comes refinement.
With refinement comes mastery.
“Fear or stupidity has always been the basis of most human actions”
See that quote by Einstein above? Let’s change that.
Nick Lechnir – Leapfrogging Success