You Are Not Stupid
Ian Lurie Jun 6 2013
Words are powerful.
If you’re like me, 10, 11, 40 times a day you mentally slam your head in a drawer and say “That was STUPID.”
That’s the wrong word. 99.99999% of the time, you can replace ‘stupid’ with ‘experimenting.’ You didn’t do whatever it was that blew up in your face, failed, imploded, left wreckage in its wake or otherwise went all to pieces because you’re dumb. You did it because you’re trying stuff.
Somewhere around age 5 we start a lifelong course of training in fear of experiments. An experiment usually requires a bunch of failures before you get a success. We’re taught to hate that. When it fails, you kick yourself. When it succeeds, you move on. That’s all wrong.
If you’re an internet marketer — or if you do just about anything else for a living, nowadays — there’s no instruction manual. All you have to work with is experiments.
You may think you can find some crusty veteran of the marketing wars like me to give you advice. But our industry is so new even the pioneers have very little historical data to go on. So whatever you do, you’re going to be experimenting.
I know lots of entrepreneurs sound the ‘you must fail to succeed’ horn. That’s not my message. My message is that it’s all relative, and you’re not stupid. Nor did you do something stupid. So stop using the word on yourself.
The word ‘stupid’ belongs to this kind of idiocy:
The car in the photo drove by me at 15 miles per hour. I was trying to get the license plate so I could call the police, but I failed. My most charitable explanation: The child has horrifying mental powers, and has erased the facial features of the last 100 adults that tried to get her to NOT hang out the window of a moving car while on a freeway.
Seems unlikely. So the adult risking their child’s life to avoid a tantrum qualifies as ‘stupid.’ She has set the bar for all of us, and the bar is high. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re no dummy.
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More