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How looking stupid might help you improve

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid…

The above quote from Epictetus demonstrates what so few understand – humility.

What I’ve found in working with leaders and teams is that problems exist because so few are asking for help in understanding. Like a debate that only exchanges conclusions, the leader who doesn’t listen and ask for clarification will never win the heart of his people. So few people ask questions because, many times, the fear of looking stupid crowds out any potential of having the humility to ask for help with what you don’t know.

Do you want to improve? Asking questions might make you look stupid, but in asking questions, you will be the only one who fully understands the situation.

When I was in graduate school, I took a class on the Christian doctrine of Revelation Inspiration. To put it blunt: I hadn’t a clue of what the class was about. So do you know what I did? I rewrote the entire book. That’s right, I sat with a thesaurus and rewrote the entire thing! Why? Because I knew I couldn’t move forward if I didn’t have clarity on what I was learning about.

In the same way, imagine how great the world would be if people would stop the assumptions and attempt to translate what we were saying to each other. We might actually have clear communication!

Two last things I must add: I aced the class I just told you about and everyone wanted my notes.

Takeaway? Be content to be thought of as stupid – that kind of humility will serve others and yourself in the world of leadership.

What would happen if you asked the people around you what was working and what wasn’t in regards to your team, your company or even your family? What might you learn! Do you want to improve? You know what to do.


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