Thinking back, I can’t help but shake my head. Wow, was I naïve.
Just 6 months ago, I had idealistic expectations of how being a freelancer and entrepreneur was going to go. I planned out big goals, action steps and milestones. I thought things were going to work out a certain way by this time and that.
I really was a little foolish. And that’s okay.
In fact, being a little foolish has resulted in great changes and accomplishments—things that would not have happened otherwise. Instead of feeling embarrassed about my idealistic past self, I’m learning to embrace it as a necessary part of the process of personal growth and meaningful progress.
This did not come easily for me.
I like to have things under control. Even when I’m emotionally and mentally struggling with something, I aspire to seem composed on the outside, even in spite of having been told I have an abysmal poker face. I also want to be well regarded—I mean, who doesn’t? But these protective tendencies ended up inhibiting me.
I’ve intentionally worked towards being more vulnerable in order to embrace the reasons to be a little foolish. Doing so has yielded major shifts in perspective and changes in my life.
I now look back 6 months and am gently amused by my past self. I see the little bit of foolishness as a good thing—a sign of the growth and learning that has occurred. I marvel at how much has happened, what I’ve learned, accomplished and improved upon.
And for those big dreams, passion projects and visions where you’re not entirely sure how it’s going to come about, I know firsthand there is a little bit of foolishness that needs to come along.
Here are 4 reasons to be a little foolish.
1) Being a little foolish is the first step
It’s the first step to anything having to do with growth, creativity and innovation. It’s what sparks new thoughts, experiments and discoveries. It’s how unexplored territory got discovered, inventions were created and break-through advancements realized.
Remarkable thought leaders and pioneers were initially thought to be foolish by the masses. Until what was initially thought impossible was realized: the light bulb was invented, the first man landed on the moon, the first computer was built.
You need a little bit of foolish to start doing something new, to break out of “the way it’s always been done.” This is the case whether you’re contemplating a change in your life, a new business idea or learning a new skill.
Being a little foolish allows you to let go of the inhibitions, ignore the naysaying, doubts and negative self-talk that plague even the best of us, and be more comfortable with the unknown—so that you are more able to take that first step.
2) A little bit foolish isn’t ignorance or carelessness
Steve Jobs himself said it. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
What he doesn’t mean though is to lack good sense or judgment. There is a place for research, due diligence and preparation. It’s smart to have at least a rough plan in place. Steve, of all people, used plenty of research and preparation to revolutionize personal computers, phones, animated movies, music and digital publishing.
This is where many people stay though. They remain in the researching, hypothesizing, theorizing, strategizing and planning—all without taking a real step of action. Nothing happens until you start taking real action.
3) Being a little foolish doesn’t define you
A common reason why people don’t ever get started is because of the fear of failure, and intricately tied along with it—the fear of judgment and lack of acceptance from others.
But in anything new, you’re going to have to struggle, fail and experiment a bit because that’s how learning takes place. In order to find your groove, you must be willing to stick your neck out and be vulnerable for a while.
You must be willing to trust you will figure it out. You must be willing to take a chance on yourself. You must give yourself a chance, as insurmountable or challenging the goal may seem. And for the big, scary projects, passions or dreams close to the heart—it helps to be a little foolish at the start.
Being a little foolish doesn’t define you, not for long anyway.
As you learn, you get better and become wiser—something that happens only by the act of starting and seeing what happens. While the credibility may take time to build, you must step into and play the role before others will start seeing you as such.
You must believe in yourself before others will. You must develop the ability to stay true to yourself, brushing aside the inevitable criticism that always comes before and along with great success. It’s not an easy feat, but it does get easier as you go.
4) If you’re not being a little foolish, you could be doing more
Reality is, you don’t have enough skin in the game if you’re taking little to no risk where it truly counts. Having everything in your life under control indicates you could be doing more.
Chances are, you’re probably not learning as much as you could be. You are not giving yourself a chance to play bigger. You’re not achieving your full potential.
I’m not talking about miscellaneous errands or activities when I say you could be doing more. I mean that dream in the back of your mind, the hidden passion, the desire for the life unlived.
Yes, I understand it may seem far-fetched, unrealistic and indulgent, however let go of knowing exactly how it’s going to happen. Be a little foolish and give it a chance instead of no chance at all.
The answer will come in bits and pieces along the way. The most worthwhile accomplishments are what result from the countless, little, everyday things you do consistently despite the lack of certainty that what you’re doing will work.
It will take time, and not necessarily by your timeline.
But I firmly believe that if there is a passion for it, a resonance with your soul, there will be a way. The drive will persevere past the trials and errors; the skill will improve past all the others without the passion. And at some point, you’ll look back and think, Wow was I naïve, but it was all worth it.
Be a little foolish and go for it.
What big dream are you willing to be a little foolish for?