I don’t care who you are, sometimes you’re just an idiot. We are all imperfect. You, me, everybody. Sometimes it is easy to forget this truth. That’s why I like it when, once in a blue moon, I do something that makes me consciously aware that, for at least a few moments, I’m an idiot. When this happens I am reminded of the need for feedback to fuel my continued growth as a professional and a human. I remember the need for humility.
Here is the latest example of how I was made aware of my idiot potential. I was backstage at a large speaking gig for a client making small talk with a few executives. It was a huge employee appreciation day for nearly one thousand employees and I was the day’s entertainment. We had about 15 minutes to go before they introduced me and I was chatting with Suzanne, the company’s Vice President of Human Resources. She was congenial, very bright, and profoundly attractive. I’m a single guy and I noticed she was not wearing a wedding ring, so I quietly reminded myself not to be an idiot while we were talking.
The conversation was going great. She was delightful and easy to talk to. At some point Suzanne asked me a question I’ve been asked many times. She said, “Todd, how did you become involved in speaking professionally?” I replied, “Honestly, it was serendipity, not a plan per se. Apparently if you’re an expert with a little bit of personality, you can be a speaker. Truth is, I’m just a big boob and as it turns out, people really like boobs.”
I realized what I said. I sighed, knowing I was an idiot.
Suzanne was a trooper. She blew it off and pretended not to notice my silly faux pas. Nonetheless, I was embarrassed. I was once again reminded of my imperfection, my humanness. The embarrassment soon turned into inner laughter. Thankfully, I’ve realized that it’s refreshing to be humbled on occasion.
Being revealed as an idiot is normal! The only real idiot is the person unwilling to laugh about it and learn from it.