Three little pigs built houses. One liked straw. She built hers with straw. One liked sticks. She built hers with sticks. The third little pig? She built hers of bricks. Two got eaten. One did not.
What does this story teach us? On one hand it teaches us that if we screw up, it’s our own fault that we lose our house. It’s our own fault if we get eaten. And if we use the other version of the story where the pigs run away to the brick house for protection? There’s that pain in the ass sister pig know it all waiting for us in her big brick house ready to say ‘I told you so’.
Run and hide
On the other hand? This story teaches us something else equally damaging. It says: Don’t be stupid. Protect yourself. Don your armour. Build a wall. You’ll be safe that way. You’re stupid if you don’t. Don’t do what you love. Don’t take a risk. Hide behind some bricks and the big bad wolf will leave you alone. Stay safe.
Which pig are you?
So many of us are afraid of being the pig who loves straw, or the pig who loves sticks. None of us really want to be seen as stupid. Not by our peers. Not by our colleagues. Not by those closest to us.
They already know
Are you secretly terrified of being caught? Are you convinced that when people discover you might not be as smart as they think you are, they will reject you? Are you afraid that people think you’re stupid? If so, it’s too late. There are people out there who do think you are stupid.
And, they’re right. At times, you are stupid. At times, you make poor choices.
Every living human being is in their own way stupid. An idiot. A fool. A clown. Imperfect. We are all idiots. Despite the reality that universal idiocy exists, we still run from it. It’s ridiculous to think that we can control how people perceive us. It’s even sillier to think that we can’t appear stupid because everyone is stupid. Everyone on this earth is incomplete.
Everyone is a fool.
Everyone is a fool because everyone has incomplete data. Whatever decision we make, we make as a leap of faith. We say to ourselves: I know this thing and I know that thing. Now if these are the circumstances I’m given, this is the best possible course of action. And sometimes it isn’t the best course of action. It’s an odd thing though. We continue to operate like we’re still in school. That if we make a mistake and look stupid, somehow we will be badly damaged. Perhaps we’ll lose some status, or at worst our job. But rarely are the consequences of looking stupid as bad as we imagine.
Check the data on stupidity
Why? Every human who has ever lived is a fool. We are all flawed. We are all stupid. We are all idiots. We are all operating with incomplete data.
Or the technology isn’t there yet
For example: my father worked his whole career as a firefighter. His career took place mostly in the 1970’s and 80’s. He used to like to joke that he couldn’t have PTSD because it hadn’t been invented yet. It’s true. The term PTSD didn’t emerge until the 1980’s or become a recognized diagnosis until much later. The world, which is made up of people, was operating with an incomplete data set. We are all idiots.
We’ve all done it
We’ve all screwed up at some point in time. We’ve all looked stupid. And guess what? Not many people die from being seen as stupid. If you’re reading this now: You’ve been stupid. You’ve been an idiot. You’ve screwed up. Most importantly? You’ve survived. Congratulations.
You’re clown is near
What’s that feeling you get when people see you as stupid? Embarrassment? Shame? Those feelings? They are the progress stoppers. Shame is the killer of creativity, the jailer of pleasure and the assassin of freedom. Shame is the big bad wolf. We all have experienced it. And for the most part, we all hate it.
How are you going to live?
Are you afraid of the big bad wolf? Are you afraid of being seen? Are you afraid of your shame? It’s too late. You’ve already been seen. The rest of us idiots? We all know that you’re an idiot too. So what are you going to do about it? Clowns learn to make friends with their embarrassment and to dance with their shame. Because of this clowns are more free. Because clowns have increased immunity to shame and embarrassment, clowns are dangerous. So be a clown. Or not. My only request? Don’t be a big bad wolf. Don’t go blowing your hot air of shame around. It’s not welcome.