As Amy Poehler says, “No one looks stupid when they’re having fun.” 

The key, I’m discovering lately, when stepping into the unknown, is to embrace the giddiness that comes with the inevitable experience of looking stupid.

When we take ownership of the stupidness it becomes silliness--and silly is a lot less scary.

Hopefully you’ve experienced the silly joy of watching a reckless three-legged race, or a campfire skit of middle-schoolers trying to tell a story with a mouth full of marshmallows, or the horrible singer who unselfconsciously and passionately belts out an AC/DC song at the karaoke party. 

Making something great will be scary, sure. And you’re going to look stupid along the way—there’s no avoiding that. But if you can also have fun along the way, you’ll find that most people—at least the ones that count—won’t ridicule your stupidity. They’ll celebrate it.

Pretending you know what you’re doing when you don’t is a form of lying. Apologizing for what you don’t know is unnecessary and turns people away. But celebrating what you don’t know draws people in.

We love to cheer on the underdogs, the folks who have no idea what they’re doing but joyfully trudge on anyway. 

It’s a significant part, I believe, of what brings in an audience in for an improv show. We love to watch people in way over their heads, battling on anyway, with a smile on their face.

It’s not the constant losses that drive diehard Cubs fans, it’s the hope of finally prevailing. 

Because we can see that their tolerance for failure will likely get them a win someday. 


p.s.--Here’s a great example of how doing it wrong with joy can sometimes make it better.

This post is part 2 of a very short series on getting started when you don't know what you're doing. Here's Step 1, if you're interested. Or if you're Maria von Trapp and that's where you like to start.


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© Andy Zimney and Leading Off the Cuff, 2015.



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Andy Zimney is a Senior Advisor and Team Performance Coach at Employee Strategies, Inc., a boutique firm that partners with leaders to develop highly effective cultures that drive outstanding results. Contact ESInc to learn more about how they can assess your current culture and design customized and effective development experiences for your team. Or reach out to Andy directly.