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The Art of Looking Stupid

September 19, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Art of Looking Stupid

Looking stupid is one of the greatest things you can do.  I recently discovered just how great looking stupid can really be, but before I tell you, I’d like to post another option to reading this text.

In correspondence to this blog, since the original idea was to make myself vulnerable, I posted my speech up on YouTube I gave about this topic.  I am not a professional speaker and would like to improve, so if you have any criticisms, lay them on me.  I was mainly trying to give a speech without letting my nerves get the best of me, and overall I believe I did alright.

Before I get started, raise your hand if you enjoy looking stupid (yes, raise your hand even though you are at your computer and I cannot see you).  Let’s face it, none of us enjoy looking stupid. We are human beings.  We thrive off putting up the good ‘ole persona and acting how we think we should.  Looking stupid in front of others is suicide.

Or, is the opposite suicide?

After doing some serious thinking, I realized that if you are able to embrace looking ridiculous and making mistakes, you are able to embrace life.

Taking a risk, and risking looking stupid doing it, has many great benefits.  The three most important ones are finding new passions, the gift of a beginner’s mind, and the fact that not taking risks, is risky.

Finding New Passions

Do you currently have any hobby or activity you love to do, that you didn’t have to go out there first and try it?  You probably looked pretty awkward when you first started partaking in that activity didn’t you?

If you somehow answered no (and thus lied), are you a skier or snowboarder? >-)

The fact of the matter is, if we want to find out if we enjoy something, we basically have to get out there and do it.  There is no other way.  You could think about what the experience is like, but that will never be exactly what the experience will really be (often times the experience will be the complete opposite).

A personal story of mine is when I bought a drum set in High School.  I played a bit, wasn’t anything special, but I could dish out a few beats and provide a good base for a guitarist.  A friend of mine asked me if I would like to join his band.  I said, “why not?”  I joined up, we practiced a few times, then we had our first show.

In front of about a total of 15 people, I was a nervous WRECK.  I dropped my sticks, I changed to rhythms of completely different songs in the middle of another song, I stopped playing a few times (leading to band members looking at me with WHAT THE F*** faces), and basically raped the show.

People were STANDING UP and leaving in the middle of our songs.

People were coming up to me and telling me that THEY HATED ME and that MY FACE WAS UGLY.
**OK, that was a lie, but it sure felt like it!

Five or six shows down the road, I started playing better in front of a crowd then when I played alone in my room.  We had a show where everyone asked for an encore and didn’t want us to stop playing.

So what the hell happened?

What happened was that I had to get completely destroyed and blown out that first time, in order to get to the point where I had an amazing time playing on a stage in front of people.  Let me tell ya, it is a pretty sexy feeling to have your sexy bass drum miked up to the point where you know a little sexy tap of your toe will send sexy deep vibrations that rattle people’s sexy ribcages.

I had to risk looking like a complete fool in order to push past that point and find out how much I enjoyed playing on that stage.  This shows that going out there and making a fool of yourself is an amazing thing to do and well worth the risk, and be honest with yourself, do people really think you look that stupid (or are they secretly jealous that you are doing something they wish they had the balls/ovaries to do)?

There may be things out there you have been wanting to try but have been afraid to go out there and take a swing at because you are afraid of looking dumb.  Go out there and do it anyways because you are going to look like an idiot eventually no matter what you do. You just might find a new passion.  Plus, when you go out and take on something new, you get…

The Gift of a Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.  In the expert’s, there are few” -Shunryu Suzuki

What this means is that when you are forced into a beginner role, it humbles you.  It takes you off of your pedestal and reminds you that you are human.  You suddenly admit you are a rookie, and are open to new ideas.  You start asking questions, looking at things from different angles, and begin learning like crazy.  This also means that you begin growing like crazy.

By putting yourself in a position when you feel inadequate, it feels uncomfortable, but it does put you in that frame of mind where you feel like learning.  By constantly going back to this state of mind, we can learn to keep it with us at all times, so we can constantly be growing as people instead of saying, “well, I’m an expert now, looks like I can just kick back, sip my coffee, and wait for the grave.”

Another personal example (I’ve looked dumb quite a few times in my life) is when I went to South America over the summer.  Before I left, I had no classes in Spanish (which I don’t recommend taking anyways, at least at most schools/Universities in The United States) and taught myself.  I felt like a pro sitting in my room listening to slow, easy tapes and reading easy passages.

Then I landed in the Chilean airport (I love Chile, but for a beginner in Spanish all the differences can be overwhelming).

Long story short, I got my ass brutally kicked in Spanish.  I suddenly realized how foolish I was to think I knew anything about the Spanish language with the studying that I had done (and no conversational practice).  I couldn’t even finish my first meal because of how shocked I was with the whole situation.

Then, I accepted that I was indeed, Spanishly speaking (yes I made that word up) sterile, and needed to learn A LOT.

One day I was in Santiago, and I mistakenly made eye contact with a street performer.  He instantly took advantage of this and yelled, “YOU! GRINGO! COME HERE!” and I went inside his circle of doom.  He was having me say and do things that I had no idea of what was going down, and about 50 Chileans were having the best time of their life.

A week after that, I started getting cocky again with my Spanish.  I thought I was kewl, and went in to a Café/Bar and was talking to three Chilean girls.  I told them, “Yeah the other day, I was in Santiago and this guy screwed me over.  He put me in front of this big group of people and completely screwed me.”  What I really said, in Spanish, **WARNING VULGAR LANGUAGE UPCOMING DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED** was that he took me in front of a big group of people and inserted his c*ck into my @$$.  In a literal sense.  Not the way I was trying to describe it like we would in English.

So much for being a pro at Spanish, eh?

I am glad that happened, because it brought me down a notch and reminded me that I was a beginner.  I went back to my humble beginner mind and started looking at all the things I could learn.

I made mistakes without giving a damn.  I went all over the place and spewed out phrases that probably haunted and woke people up in their sleep because of how horrible it sounded.  I was getting corrected quite a bit, although I made so many mistakes I even noticed that people simply let them go because they were growing tired of helping me with every other sentence.

But then I realized, I was learning a ****load!  Compared to the other students, who were in Spanish classes WAY higher than my basic class, I was progressing MUCH faster.  In fact, towards the end of the program, I was becoming far better then them at surviving and having conversations in Spanish.

I cannot even BEGIN to describe how much more Spanish I learned while looking like a complete idiot and speaking like a 4 year old compared to sitting in my room listening to tapes and reading easy passages in Spanish.

And by the way, I will never forget that word I used in that Café.

Before you stop yourself from going out there and risking looking like a dumbass, remember that being a beginner is a good place to be.  Everyone who is an expert where they are now were once beginners.  Einstein failed out of a math class.  Michael Jordan cried like a little bish when he got cut from the High School basketball team.  Get it?

View beginners as being experts at growth  😀

If that doesn’t convince you to go out there and trip yourself up, remember that

NOT Taking Risks is RISKY

Risk = an action that has potential negative consequences (which includes looking like a dumbass in front of others).

The thing about risks, is that if you don’t take risks, you are taking the BIGGEST risk of all.  (I originally got this idea from Tynan)

If you don’t take any risks, you are putting your future at serious risk.

  • To get what you want, you have to take risks.
  • If you don’t take risks, you won’t get what you want.
  • If you don’t take risks, you won’t have the future that you want.

You simply can’t have the future you want without taking any risks.  That, in essence, is a bigger risk than to not take risks!

Also, if you don’t take risks, you are risking that you will feel regret later on in your life.  It isn’t what people did and screwed up on, that bothers them the most, it is what they didn’t do.

  • The job they didn’t apply for.
  • The girl/guy they didn’t go up to.
  • The opportunity they passed up.

If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy taking risks, sit back and remind yourself that by not taking risks in day to day life, you are actually taking the LARGEST risk of all in the long run!

To Sum It All Up
If you haven’t looked like an idiot lately, you could be taking the biggest risk of all.  You aren’t getting out there and throwing yourself in new situations that will allow you to grow.  Get out there, pickup that guitar, give a speech (and then post it up on the internet), get made fun of in another language, and most importantly, go out there and have a blast making a fool of yourself.

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