To Improve, Be Content to Be Thought Foolish and Stupid

“The great achievements in this world are reserved for those willing to look like a fool in the eyes of society.” –Chad Grills

First, they ignore you.

Second, they laugh at you.

Third, they attack you.

Finally, they brag to their friends how they know you.

If you want to improve and achieve true success, you must be content to be thought foolish and stupid — for a time.

The Price They’re Unwilling to Pay

“Life shrinks and expands in direct proportion to your willingness to assume risks.” -Casey Neistat

Looking foolish, or being embarrassed, has become a sin in our society.

The larger mob of people — the ones who will never achieve true success — aren’t willing to risk looking foolish to achieve success.

But the higher our willingness to assume risk, the greater life expands to provide us with opportunities for success.

This is the price the “mediocre majority” are unwilling to pay, and thus ensure they never truly achieve real success. Because that’s the price of success — unapologetic commitment to learning. Unabashed curiosity. Total humility. Shameless admittance that you don’t know.

Most of society wants to “already know.” They want to be put-together, and spend untold amounts of energy keeping up the silly facade they are always selfie-ready, adventure-addicted, and eat Pinterest-level meals every day.

But that’s not the truth. And while the rest of society is profoundly distracted with maintaining this act, the marginal few individuals who willingly embrace embarrassment and looking foolish take another inevitable step forward towards achieving legendary success.

You cannot reach this level if you are unwilling to look foolish or stupid in the eyes of others.

Stop Giving a F**k About Embarrassment

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” — Thomas J. Watson

How many people haven’t donned their ill-fitting gym clothes because they were embarrassed?

How many authors haven’t bothered to make a peep about their book idea because they were embarrassed?

How many would-be entrepreneurs haven’t even mentioned their idea to anyone because they were embarrassed?

The casualty rate is among the millions, with more added in droves every day.

When we are embarrassed, and submit to embarrassment’s agenda — shame, self-loathing, fear — we fail before we begin. Our dream dies before it’s even born.

Ironically, this is the very path individuals who desperately want to connect with others need to take. In the words of Mark Manson in his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck:Suffering through your fears and anxieties is what allows you to build courage and perseverance.

Risking embarrassment and looking foolish in front of others is actually the very context that builds our courage the most.

If we want to truly “know and be known,” we must build this courage and train ourselves. It might not be pleasant at the time, but this suffering is actually what propels you to exceed your expectations and achieve true success.

Succeed by Failing More

“If I fail more, I win.” -Seth Godin

The truth is, you can’t be an inspiration to some without being a joke to others.

This is a simple, undeniably principle of success. You will never please everyone; you will make foolish mistakes, look like an idiot, and risk being the butt of the joke.

But this is exactly how you make progress.

If you fail more than the other person, you win.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” — Jim Rohn

With every failure, you separate yourself further and further from the mediocre majority who are unwilling to even risk looking foolish.

You learn lessons they would never even have a chance to learn. You develop a healthy habit of shifting the power you’ve given to others and put it squarely back on you and your development.

In the words of iconic entrepreneur Tim Ferris:

“The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it east to people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits. There is just less competition for bigger goals.”

People are insecure. They are fragile, and largely unwilling to publicly strike out while attempting a big home run. So they settle for the easy base hits.

Fortunately, this type of behavior is exactly what makes it so easy to succeed on a grand scale. Since no one even attempts, there is simply less competition for grand-scale success.

The fishing is best where the fewest go.

Most of society never even attempts the big fish.

Sure, those who actually attempt going after the big fish will certainly fail, probably many times.

But inevitably, after so many tries, so many embarrassing showings in front of everyone…you get a bite. And it’s a big one.

This is the process for true success.

“The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth.” –Ryan Holiday

To take the next step towards true success, you must be content to be thought foolish and stupid.


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