A couple of weeks ago, I got an email that has stuck with me ever since. Kate wrote, “I’m always so encouraged by your blog. When I’m done reading it, I feel like I’m capable of more than I was before. I want you to know that you’re changing my life post by post… How did you get like this?”
Your question cracked me up! How’d I get like this? My wife asks me the same question! (I don’t think she means it as nicely as you do, though.)
Friends, I’m working my way through these concepts and challenges too. I’ll admit it, though. I’m braver than most people around me. I’m happier, more fulfilled and successful than a lot of people in similar circumstances. I can comfortably say that because I’m fully aware of how little credit I deserve for it. How’d I get like this? What’s my secret?
I’m not afraid to be the dumbest guy in the room.
I’m not ashamed or scared to be the low guy on the totem poll. In fact, I crave it. I’ve made it my mission to sit at the feet of people who are smarter, wiser, more experienced and successful than I am. And I promise you this – it’s changing my life – from the inside out.
It wasn’t always true. There was a time when I was afraid for people to see my weaknesses or inexperience. If I dared admit what I lacked, it would only be to someone who knew less than me. I think most people feel the same way. If life were graded on a bell curve, we want to feel like we’re above the people around us. So knowingly or unknowingly, many of us choose who we’ll befriend based on what we think about ourselves in their company. We’re looking for equal ground, or better yet, we want to feel more accomplished. Surrounding ourselves with a peer group like us makes us feel good about ourselves.
Here’s the thing, though.
Can someone teach you what you already know?
Can they give you what you already have?
Can they lead you to where you’re already standing?
Of course not. Unfortunately, for the most part, that’s all our peers can offer us – similar experience and knowledge. Sure, there are times when we pull each other up. But too often we embrace our shared complaints, excuses and ruts. Who’s gonna understand our frustration more than someone who’s struggling with the same things? Who will validate our excuses more than someone who’s making the same ones for themselves? So we’ve got to be willing to humble ourselves and reach out to people who are beyond our experience or ability.
Several years ago, I laid down my pride. I made a trade. I’m not only willing, I’m eager to fill my life with people who are on the road up ahead of me. I look for opportunities to sit in their company and when the chance comes, I shut my big mouth. I ask questions, and I listen.
- Want a better career? Sit at the feet of someone who loves their job.
- Wanna be better with money? Sit at the feet of someone who earns and gives a lot.
- Wanna raise great children? Sit at the feet of parents who’ve already raised exceptional kids.
When you spot someone who is living life in a way you hope to someday, drop the facade, admit you need help, and become a student. Education is important. Personal experience is important. But there’s something about admitting you don’t know it all, and taking a seat at the feet of someone who knows more. Your key is a smart and thoughtful question. Ask a great question, one that allows them to share their experience and opinions, and then soak in the benefit of their wisdom.
Become the dumbest guy in the room.
It might be the smartest thing you could do for yourself.