The Joy of Looking Stupid

looking silly

Lawyers don’t mind hard work. We love to hit the books, do some research (sometimes), write letters, debate issues, and answer questions.

But you know what we don’t like? Getting noticed. At least – not in ways that we can’t entirely predict.

For starters, in my experience most lawyers are introverts. As a rule, that means we don’t love situations where we are going to be in large crowds of strangers, the center of attention, or likely to receive too many pairs of eyes upon us.

But, being introverted is not the issue.

The issue also isn’t that we’re afraid of attention – most lawyers are confident enough in their abilities that a certain amount of attention is OK.

So what is it?

Afraid of Looking Stupid

Yep that’s it.

We’re afraid of looking stupid.

Within looking stupid are many different lenses.

We could be stupid if:

  • we try and fail (this is why I don’t like running for the bus – they sometimes ignore me and pull out anyway)
  • we don’t know the answer
  • someone else points at us and laughs (the reason being unknown to us)

When Does it Happen?

The time where you look most stupid, most foolish, most witless is always the same: it’s when you go all in on something and it’s a dismal failure.

People look at you and say “why did she put all her eggs in one basket?” or “that wasn’t a good idea – blind Freddy could have seen that” or “oh Joe down the street tried that once – it didn’t work for him so I don’t know why they bothered”.

Of course, such people are morons. Sounds a bit harsh, right? Let’s make it a defined term, to avoid insult: “morons” means people who refuse to take any risk, laugh at you when you do, and stick their heads in the sand about the world around them.

Well, here is what the morons don’t understand:

  • before anything invented by humans worked, there was a time when it didn’t work
  • they enjoy the fruits of those who took risks – inventors, scientists, artists, business people and more – all of these people at one point went “all in”
  • the morons are stuck in their own petty world, where it is easier to try nothing, do nothing – in that world you experience no failure, but you also never really succeed.  All you do is hang around, waiting for other people to take the risks around you.

Joy Cometh in the Morning

What the morons I mentioned above don’t quite get either, is that by conquering our abject fear of the judgment of others, we are freed to make a real and tangible difference in the world.

We are freed to follow the path that we love, rather than the path that was set for us before.

We are freed to help the people we care about, rather than those thrust upon us.

And we are freed from defining ourselves by reference to the position, the history, the judgment and the ridicule of others.

That freedom is true joy.

Opportunities to Look Stupid are Everywhere – Take some!

All of you have a chance to try something that might be “silly” or which might fail miserably.  I heartily encourage you to take it.

Write a book.

Start a podcast.

Build a website.

Meet someone new.

Make the call that you’ve been putting off.

Go to the function that you don’t know anybody at.

Have the conversation you’ve not wanted to have.

Because until you break through the barrier – it’s going to close in on you forever.

What are you going to do?

Happy Lawyering!

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