the brilliance of Stupidity
Forget for a moment what you know and think about the word ‘stupid’ and read on.
There are two kinds of stupidity – one born from ignorance (i.e. lack of knowledge or awareness) and the other born from arrogance. The arrogance based stupidity has nothing to offer us, it is simply insecurity, fear and defensiveness wrapped up in a tight little ball of resistance. It refuses to listen to other’s opinions and viewpoints, stubbornly sticking to its own opinion irrespective of the consequences. So enough about that one!
The stupidity born of ignorance is something we are all familiar with and experience often, if we are being honest. I am deliberately using the word stupidity, rather than ignorance for example, to challenge the assumptions we make about it. Calling someone or something stupid is considered insulting. I want to suggest that there is a very positive aspect inherent in this kind of stupidity. After-all, some of the greatest inventions, scientific discoveries and medical breakthroughs happened through this kind of stupidity.
Allowing ourselves to be and feel stupid is I believe essential for success in life no matter how you define success. Allowing ourselves to get it wrong, to mess up, to admit we do not know is liberating. honest and courageous.
It is courageous in a society that values and promotes expertise, academic credentials, intelligence and IQ, being right, the best, successful and smart. The pressure to be smart or clever never lets up. To be the fool, the dunce, the idiot, the inexperienced one is almost equivalent to being useless. Such thinking is truly stupid (of the arrogant kind).
Lack of knowledge is normal and natural, we were all born ignorant of life, all born stupid. Knowing you are stupid and embracing that stupidity requires a number of things:
- You need to be aware of it first of all, self-awareness (aware of your lack of awareness!)
- You need to be honest enough to accept it as fact and be open to others about it
- You need to see that it in no way defines you as a person
- You need to see it as a great reason to take risks, try new things, ask questions
- You need to trust yourself that you will be fine no matter what
- You need to have the emotional maturity to handle the uncomfortable feelings that come with this experience
- You need to have the self-confidence to rise above the petty comments and arrogant judgements of others
- You need to remind yourself that this kind of stupidity is a fantastic state to be in, as it is the pre-cursor to great insights and wonderful breakthroughs
The truly stupid people are the ones who are open to learning, to sharing information, to trying new things, taking risks, asking seemingly obvious and stupid questions, asking for help – they don’t care what others think, their stupidity is a tool for leveraging their desire to grow, develop and expand their potential. A know all is the opposite to this and should be avoided at all costs. Just say ‘whatever!’ to them and keep walking.
No-one is clever all the time. The person who can recognise when they are stupid about something and be open about ‘not knowing’ are emotionally intelligent and that is the real difference between the stupidity from ignorance and from arrogance. The arrogant person cannot handle the simple fact that they do not know and so hide it pretending to be clever.
Your birthright is to be stupid, play with it and maximise it. Embrace your stupidity, to be ignorant is to be human and a natural part of learning. Since life is all about learning, somewhere in your life right now you are quite stupid!
As for me, I know nothing.