How many opportunities do you think you have missed because you feared you would look stupid for trying? 

Too many.

Just about every one of us is guilty of this to some extent. Some couldn’t care less and just go ahead making complete fools of themselves over and over. But some care so much that it cripples them out of trying almost everything, even the things they really want to do. Some feel this fear to such extremes that it leaves them limited to only a few small daily tasks that lay within their comfort zone. 

Whatever degree you feel it, it poses the question: Why the hell are we so afraid of looking stupid? 

Well of course none of us want to look stupid. So the real question should be: why do we care so much about looking stupid that it stops us from trying the things we really want to do?

Fear of failure.

Avoiding the feelings of shame and embarrassment.

Fear of ridicule.

Fear of not being ‘perfect’.

Fear of a bruised ego.

Preference of the comfortable life, where we never have to find out how difficult this new task might actually be to accomplish.

Sometimes I think it is as though we are still stuck In our Year 7 High School minds, the absolute peak year for bullying, teasing, hierarchies, comparison and judgement. All those feelings of angst and humiliation are so easy to reach back and find in our memories, as fresh as ever. Nothing hurts worse than the emotional pains felt during the trivial times of adolescence. But for some strange reason we are completely forgetting that we are grown ups now, the schoolyard bullshit no longer exists. You don’t have to impress anybody to be granted a seat at the back of the bus anymore. The world is now yours to do as you will with it. (If schoolyard bullshit somehow still does exist in your circle, why the hell are those people in it?)

Even though we all know that success doesn’t exist without failure, we all know that the most successful businessmen and sportspeople failed far more times than they succeeded in order to get where they are. Heck, to hold an average of .300 batting percentage in international level baseball is considered to be elite. That means that 7 out of 10 times, you don’t hit the ball! But you don’t need me to feed you all the statistics and all the quotes on failure. Even though we all know this information, we still can’t find the cajones to have a go ourselves. 

Does Richard Branson look stupid?

Does LeBron James look stupid?

Does Lionel Messi look stupid?

Does Donald Trump look stupid?? …well he doesn’t think he does, and he certainly wouldn’t have achieved 1/10 of the things he has achieved if he feared looking silly.

The problem is, is that for some ridiculous reason we care so much about what others think. So much to the extent that we choose not to live within our values and we make choices that will guide us away from the goals we seek in life, just so we can avoid looking stupid! If there was a definition of insanity not already taken by Einstein (which by the way is not a true Einstein quote), I think this should be it. In Mark Manson’s words, we need to “give less fucks” about things that are unimportant or unrelated to our values. If we have a go and someone does judge you and your efforts, who are they to you? If their opinion doesn’t relate to your goals, so fuck them off.

If you think about it, those that we do see as the ones that often have a go, occasionally making mistakes and ‘looking stupid’. Besides the putrid world of social media where the ‘true heroes’ can hide behind their keyboards, rarely do we or others ever mock their failures or behave in the manner we dread so much if the roles were reversed. Instead we perceive them to be brave and courageous. “Look at that guy go! What a legend for having a crack!” The ones that brush their failure off and enjoy a little laugh to themselves end up earning more of an ovation than the one that actually does succeed. Even in school. Remember the ones that tried, failed, but had a laugh at themselves? They were considered heroes! Whether your fearful or not, just own it. 

So, if you want to learn how to be an… amazing artistic painter: go and enter your work into some competitions, go and sell them at markets and go get your arse to that painting school you’ve been putting off. When you brave your first class, drop the ego, cop the fact that you are going to be criticised, accept that your work is not going to be the best in the room, take the lessons onboard with an open and constructive mind, allow yourself to fail and experiment and go well outside your comfort on the canvas, praise others success and comfort others failures, be the type of person you wish to have around you when you’re outside your comfort zone. Because that person is the only person who has absolutely any chance of achieving their dreams. The one who is still yet to start, frozen in fear, will never achieve what their desires.

You will only look stupid if you believe yourself to be stupid.


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