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Tuesday, April 5,2011

Dare to Look Foolish

By Deborah Brown, Ph.D., MBA  

Do you have a passion that drives you? Is there something you want so badly that you’re willing to get up earlier, stay up later, or work harder than ever to achieve it? Are you driven by a compelling vision that pushes you past what you once thought was possible? 

If you are creating a new product, launching a new initiative, or forming a new business, you might need to do more than dare to try something new. You might need to risk appearing “foolish” in the eyes of others

Here are some of the wellmeaning questions you might receive: “You’re going to do WHAT? Are you sure? What if that doesn’t work? Isn’t that a little risky? Do you know what you’re doing? Isn’t there another way? You’re kidding, right?”

According to centuries-old wisdom from the I Ching, there’s no way to avoid the expressions of either amusement or concern on the faces of others when you’ve decided to take a risk. “Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish in the crowd.”

So how can you cope with the sneaking suspicion (or outright certainty) that you’re going to be perceived as foolish for at least a short period of time before you succeed? First, remember you’re in good company. Artists, actors, entrepreneurs, musicians, inventors, cuttingedge researchers, innovative mathematicians – virtually anyone who breaks new ground will be dubbed foolish at least once.

In the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” for example, Dr. John Nash (played by Russell Crowe) hears only snickers and teasing from his friends in a bar when he first presents his preliminary ideas that led to the now-famous Nash Equilibrium. His friends recognize his brilliance, but when he first announces “Adam Smith needs revision,” they only scoff and laughingly ask, “What’re you talking about?”.

So if others dismiss your passion as silly or foolish, you’re not alone. Secondly, remember Margot Fonteyn’s advice: “Take your work seriously, but never yourself.” So what if people see you as foolish? There will undoubtedly be times when you are judged as less than competent and brilliant. It’s true for everyone. So why waste your time and energy relentlessly trying to achieve human perfection? Instead of growing more rigidly attached to perfecting yourself, try relaxing a little and not taking yourself so seriously.

I support you in following your bliss and daring to look foolish!


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