It’s OK to be an idiot. Sometimes.

In the age of social media, everybody want to be an expert and nobody ever wants to be an idiot. Ones idiocy could be on their permanent Twitter-record after all. But I’d like to stand up and say it’s OK to be an idiot, at least sometimes.

Early in my career I worked with a guy who refused to be wrong. Ever. He now works alone. Probably because no one can stand to work with him anymore, no matter how brilliant he is.

A few years later, I worked with someone who refused to admit when they didn’t know even the slightest technical detail and would proceed to bullshit about which they knew nothing. The stream of related bullshit could go on for weeks – bullshit tends to multiply. No one I know has heard from this person in years. They were probably buried by their own bullshit.

What I would tell these people, if they would listen, is it’s OK to say, “I don’t know.” Or defer to an expert. Some of the most successful and happiest people I’ve worked with throughout the years are totally cool with looking like an idiot, at least sometimes, when it moves the job forward.

I am cool with it too. Ask me about coding. I’m sure to give you a deer in headlights look and then point you in the direction of someone else.

Let’s face it, business is complex as hell in the digital age. No one should be expected to know everything these days. And everyone should be suspect of someone who pretends to. And in the end, a project’s success is more important to team members than anyone knowing it all, all the freaking time.

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Posted on: September 1, 2010, by :