If you want to be successful, you must be willing to fail, look stupid, and admit your ignorance.

People naturally avoid what they fear. Unfortunately, people often fear the very activities necessary for their success. Success requires failing sometimes; Success requires silly mistakes and years of learning. If you want to be successful, you need to be comfortable with failure, foolishness, and ignorance. Here are some ideas that might help:

1. Being willing to fail can lead to success.

Do you remember Babe Ruth? During his lifetime, he was known as the “homerun” king. But did you know that he also held the record for strikeouts? Did you know that Edison’s light bulb experiment failed 10,000 times before it worked? And how long did it take you to perfect your walking, reading or speaking? Don’t be afraid of failing. Failure is a necessary part of the learning process. Lincoln went bankrupt two businesses and was defeated in multiple elections before becoming president. Does that make it a failure or a success?

Emerson once wrote, “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whichever course you decide, there will always be someone to tell you that you are wrong. Difficulties always arise that tempt you to believe that your critics are right.”

People will always be quick to point out their flaws, and they will surely have some. So you better be comfortable with people noticing. Once you get comfortable with making the occasional mistake, you may find out how to get it right.

2. Don’t be afraid to look stupid:

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will probably seem stupid at least once in your life. So, instead of dreading the arrival of that moment, it is better that you finish it at once. Just go ahead and do something that seems stupid. Join an acting class and try to be horrible. Go to a karaoke bar and sing off key on purpose.

You will find that nobody cares if you look stupid. People are too busy trying to hide their own stupidity to remember yours, and anyone with an important opinion certainly doesn’t keep track of you. Plus, once you’re comfortable looking stupid, you won’t have to fear it as much.

3. We are all born ignorant and inexperienced.

Many people seem to believe that ignorance means the same thing as stupid. They don’t want to admit that they don’t know something because they fear looking foolish.

Ignorance does not mean stupid. Ignorance simply means that we lack information, training, and experience. We all ignore many things, just as we all know many things. After all, we are all born ignorant of life. So why do people feel threatened when they have to admit that they don’t know something? Stop trying to hide your ignorance; instead, proclaim with pride. Whenever you pretend that you know everything, or that you really think you know everything, you short-circuit your only path to growth.

Everyone you meet can teach you a new perspective, so learn to value those perspectives. Learn to say, “Well, you define things differently. Show me how you define things. I need to understand your perspective, so I can be less constrained by my own perspective.” The only way to see fully is to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Remember that ignorance is the natural state of all children and of anyone capable of learning …

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