You’re An Idiot (And You Should Embrace It)

You're An Idiot (And You Should Embrace It)

I’m really sorry to be the one to break it to you, but you’re an idiot. I say that in the nicest way possible, because at least one of these 3 things will be true:

  1. You’ve looked back on mistakes you made and opportunities you missed in your writing, business and in your life and thought, “What was I thinking?!”
  2. With your gift of hindsight, you’ve cast your memory back on life events you’ve experienced and thought, “If only I knew then what I know now…
  3. You look back at a situation you’d faced that was impossibly tough and say to yourself, “I get it now…

So when I say that you’re an idiot I’m only paraphrasing what you’ve told yourself.

When you look back 2, 5, or 10 years, you have a great platform from which to see everything you got wrong or that might not have gone as well as planned. I’d even bet that 10 years from now, you’ll look back and say the exact same about where you are right now.

Maybe on your death bed, you’ll say it one last time: “I get it now…”

Don’t wait for your death bed. Today’s the day.

Those mistakes you look back on are only “bad” if you decide they are. The truth is that you don’t have all the secrets cracked any more than I do, and you don’t have all the answers any more than James does (even though she does have some good ones).

Today, people are so preoccupied with not being seen as an idiot, especially when it comes to exposing their writing or marketing their business. They pretend to have the right answers, try hard to be clever and worry about how other people see them or what people think of them.

I’ve been guilty of that too. But I’m done with it now.

Being an idiot makes it possible to embrace your work and your life without knowing how it will play out. That means you don’t have to pretend to know. You don’t have to hide that you don’t have the answers.

It’s how you make a brave choice. It’s how you try something for the very first time. It’s how you put something on the line. It’s how you launch a business in an uncertain world. It’s how you tell someone you love them. It’s how you show up at your imperfect best.

It’s why you should embrace being an idiot.

We’re all idiots.  You have no way to know what’ll happen next, so all you’ve got to go on right now is what matters to you and your in-built capacity for trusting your choices. Those 2 things just happen to be exactly what forms an extraordinary life.

You’re an imperfect, glorious, wonderful idiot – and that’s just as it should be. Being an idiot doesn’t preclude an extraordinary life: It’s integral to it.

You know more today than you’ve ever known. Today, you’re at the point where you’ve learned the most you’ve ever learned. You’ve never been a better writer.  You’ve never known as much about your business as you do right now. You’ve never made more of a go of it than you have at this point.

Today is the most you’ve ever done and achieved. Today is the very best you’ve ever been.

And there’s so much more out there for you to know, learn, do, achieve and be.

Post by Steve Errey

Steve is a superstar confidence coach who helps you build an extraordinary life. He also makes a fantastic ragu, and while he can’t promise you a batch, he'll promise to help you find your natural confidence so that you can put your dent in the universe, which is probably a better deal.  Get more of him on Twitter and Facebook.

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  1. Early Conner says:

    Good day,
    Great post! Thanks for saying what we all need to hear:)
    Early Bird

  2. I was just thinking about this very concept today when I was questioning my past decisions.

    Sure, I (we) would like to do things differently in the past knowing what we know now. In fact, we are probably doing things right now that we’ll look back on and regret — ouch. It’s part of the human condition. As long as we’re doing our best and doing no harm to others, then that’s all we can ask for.

    Great post, thank you.

    • Totally agree. I think people often conflate “doing our best” with “pretending to have all the answers” – but doing your best in it’s stripped down, most graceful form is extraordinary indeed.

  3. Oh so true. I’m out of work right now and have a ton of time on my hands. And you know? I’m using it. In between blogging and looking for work, I’m working on my novel. I will final be able to look back and say to myself that I wasn’t an idiot and I used my time. I have been in periods like this before where I have had time and I was an idiot because I didn’t use it. I got distracted and let myself remain that way. Not now. Looking back is pointless unless you are learning from it. Be an idiot yesterday, but don’t be an idiot today. 🙂

    • Great to hear you’re using your time well Nicole. But go right ahead and be an idiot today if it means you don’t have to pretend that you have all the answers. Go and be an idiot today if it frees you up from the expectations and pressure around “not being an idiot”.

  4. We all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. We all try to push forward and become the best we can be but we are not all idiots. Idiots are, according to various online sources, mentally deficient or people who suffer from extreme mental retardation. I get what you mean but I think another word would have been more appropriate. Maybe human?

    • The term’s certainly changed in it’s usage over the years, but I totally get your point. These days I think idiot is far less a clinical term and more about a label that’s applied to someone who screws up or someone who’s ignorant of what’s happening. And as those things apply to all of us at one time or another it kind of fits. But you’re right, it means we’re all human too.

  5. Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! Oh, and did I mention brilliant? After what seems a whole life time I’m finally getting the message that it’s better to do something wrong and learn, than to do nothing at all. Always been too scared to follow my gut/heart/passion in case it didn’t quite work, or someone didn’t approve. Tough, ‘cos I’m done with that. Writing my own book at the mo and setting up new business plan: ‘The gift of flight is reserved for those who jump”, so I’m jumping!

    Shout it from the rooftops, brother! Oh, I’m actually a nice little reserved English girl, but you see how much this means to me. So, today I’m really looking forward to being an idiot.

    • Crazy how much baggage we carry around about not looking stupid isn’t it?! Sounds like you’re doing just great – let me know what happens (from a nice little reserved English guy).

  6. My God! I can’t believe you use the word, “idiot” in your title. Do you understand how that word hurts people who have children with intellectual disabilities. Look up the word. Look at the history of the word. Imagine how it would feel if a doctor told you your child was an “idiot” –like my doctor did.

    Sorry, but an apology isn’t enough. Stop using such disrespectful and hateful language.

  7. “I’ll go to sleep less stupid tonight!” That’s a French saying I hear frequently up here in Quebec, and I love it.

  8. I’ve always been a big fan of taking what seem to be disparaging words and making them mean what I want them to mean. I often tell my daughter, “Yeah, I’m weird — and proud of it!”

    And — at least as I’m interpreting what you’re saying — your use of “idiot” here is just another (more colorful) way of describing what the Buddhists call “don’t-know mind” or “beginner’s mind.” Of which I am an even BIGGER fan, because it’s much more peaceful and less exhausting than trying to pretend like I know (or “should know”) stuff I don’t know 🙂

    Embracing my idiocy (and weirdness) today! Thanks, Steve!

  9. Hi Steve,

    “Don’t wait for your death bed. Today’s the day.” I’d add “And *now* is the only moment”

    I try not to think what would’ve, should’ve, or could’ve been, it’s too depressing and pointless. Sure, you may learn something and get insight into how you act, but that doesn’t require regret.

    Past is already gone, and the future will bring things while it’s going to the past. *Now* is the only moment that matters; live in the past and you’re filled with regrets, or live in the future and you’re always looking for something you don’t yet have – you’re never at peace.

    Anyway, what I took from your post is that we are all inevitably idiots, at least if we evaluate how we acted in the past. So why would we get stressed about it? Live the best life you can live right now and every moment from now on. (Trying to remember a good quote by some Zen master, but nothing comes to mind… 😉 )

    Peter Sandeen

    • Spot on Peter. At the risk of sound fluffy and fu-fu, there’s a real sense of peace or grace that comes from this kind of acceptance – and it makes a huge difference to your quality of experience.

  10. Is there something in the air today? 🙂 I’ve spent the whole day thinking about how much of an idiot I’ve been. Not quite to the level of having the “dark night of the soul”, but sort of getting there.

    Anyway, a little earlier this week I’ve decided to be “vulnerable” when it feels right. Sod it 🙂

  11. Get out of my head! Great post. People tell me that I am an idiot all the time, but it took you to convince me. Seriously, I have done everything on the list and I feel better about all of now knowing I am not the only one.

  12. I have noticed that I was an idiot in starting. But then I started going in wrong direction. I started becoming what I thought was intelligent.

    I remember how I use to get ad deals just by simply contacting people. Now, I am afraid to contact anyone because I think that’s idiotic.

    Awesome post! I’ll be an idiot again, an awesome one!

  13. Hey Steve,

    I love to hear messages that remind us perfection is not the ultimate goal but rather to learn from our imperfections.

    As a mother, I hope to be able to help my young son grow up confident by being comfortable with his imperfections and learning from his mistakes.

    Great way to present this lesson through humor! I really enjoyed reading it!


  14. Great post! I think especially in my 20’s I would get caught up in moment and lose my objectivity to see things clearly. Now I tend to try to look ahead a little and plan more. Regret denotes too much negatively. I would rather say “I am common-sense challenged”. See that sounds sooo much better:)

    • Planning’s a good thing and is to be welcomed. Unless, of course, it takes the place of meaningful action (which it often does).

      “Common-sense challenged”? Common sense goes a long way, but so does intuition and a willingness to engage.

  15. Gemma W. says:

    I’d be an idiot ONLY if I didn’t make any mistakes, or if I didn’t learn anything from my mistakes.

    I’m not an idiot for making mistakes in the first place because that’s the only way I can have the opportunity to learn and grow in all areas of my life.

  16. Michael Deaven says:

    REALLY great post! People are normally so afraid of being idiots, but being an idiot is really what gets you further in life! (Provided you learn from your idiotic mistakes, of course..)


  1. […] But leave the condescension at home. It’s bad manners and bad for business.”Steve Errey says you’re an idiot (and you should accept it): “Being an idiot makes it possible to embrace your work and your life […]

  2. […] Errey says you’re an idiot (and you should accept it): “Being an idiot makes it possible to embrace your work and your life […]

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