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Be the Idiot

One day, my boss sent me a video with the title “Be the idiot.” At first, I was taken aback by the title, but then I watched the video. In the video, American author Simon Sinek tells the story of how he was in a meeting with many C-level executives and he didn’t understand what the consultant giving the presentation was saying. He then decided to “be the idiot” by saying that he needs the consultant to repeat because to Simon, who didn’t have an MBA, what the consultant was saying didn’t make sense. To his surprise, some of the executives started saying that they didn’t understand as well. So, if it weren’t for Simon, these executives would have paid a lot of money for something that they actually didn’t understand.

What we take from this story is that sometimes it’s okay to be an idiot. A lot of us find it hard to be the first person to ask a question whether it’s in a classroom or at work. This stems from the fear of looking stupid in front of our peers.

Here are a few tips to help you overcome this fear:

→ Focus on learning

The reason you want to ask a question is because you want to learn. You should focus on this fact instead of focusing on what people will think of you.

→ Consider the outcomes

If you don’t ask your question, you won’t be able to carry on with your work. Instead, you will spend a lot of time trying to figure out that thing you didn’t understand. Hence, you will be less productive.

If you do ask your question, you will be able to carry on. You won’t have to waste your time and you will be productive.

→ Consider the bigger picture

In your head, you assume that what happens is reflected on you. In reality, you are a part of something bigger, so think about how you being the idiot could generate a positive and beneficial outcome. You could be in the same situation as Simon Sinek in which the executives with him had the same question, but he was the one who “sacrificed” himself.

→ Ask the right questions

This isn’t necessarily a tip. It is more of a follow-up. Do ask questions but ask the right ones.

To sum up, it is perfectly fine to feel like the stupidest person in the room. Because in such a situation, you will remember these tips, and Simon, and you will take the leap. You will be the idiot.