I recorded a podcast interview today and the topic of fear came up.
And I said, without really thinking, that the biggest fear at work is the fear of looking stupid.
Now I admit that particular fear was top of mind for me in that particular moment, being on a podcast as a supposed leadership expert.
But as leaders, fear of looking stupid can get in the way of a lot of things.
If you think you’re supposed to know, you can never ask a question.
If you think you’re supposed to be the smart one, you’re going to limit what you’re willing to say. You’re going to avoid other’s ideas in favor of your own. Because using someone else’s idea would mean they are smarter than you, right?
Your world, your capacity to create, your ultimate impact is going to be very small indeed if you’re afraid of looking stupid.
How do we drop this fear?
As a coach, I have the luxury of asking lots of stupid questions. And I find that it is the stupid questions that often give my clients the hardest time.
“What do you want?”
“Why do you want that?”
“What would that give you?”
Because the seemingly obvious often isn’t obvious at all.
I think what allows me to ask these questions is my sincere interest in the client. I really want to know. I really want to understand.
Wanting to be understood, wanting to be heard makes my client eager to share with me. (And if they think the question is stupid, they usually don’t tell me that!)
What are you deeply curious about? Explore that, and see what opens up. For you, your team, your company.