Are You Fool Enough to Grow?
“The fool is the precursor to the Savior” is one of my favorite quotes ever. It is something I learned from Jordan Peterson who learned it from Carl Jung.
► But, what does it mean?
One could have various interpretations depending on the context. Therefore, let’s break down the quote to single out the frame of reference for this story:
1️⃣ The fool is someone clumsy. They try stuff, stumble around and dominate the fear of looking stupid.
2️⃣ The savior is an ideal that brings peace and closure. They have a positive impact and inspire others. For some, it could be Jesus or Superman. For others, it is Bill Gates, a family member or a friend.
3️⃣ The precursor is the process leading from point A to point B. The answer to the “how?”. It is, also, the subject of this story.
Thus, we could rephrase the quote as follows :
► How could the willingness to look stupid be the first step of growth?
In order to evolve from your current self to the ideal one represented by the Savior, you need to grow. In order to grow, you need to learn. Whether it is walking, swimming, quantum mechanics or music that you are learning, you end up evolving.
For example, you might not recall your first words but you are surely familiar with the process of learning to speak. In it, you expose yourself to difficult situations where you mispronounce and babble. Basically, you fail repeatedly and sound stupid.
As you keep on trying, failing and starting over you gather information and know-how. A new version of you emerges. You build better sentences. In addition, you improve the accuracy of your word choices. Sometime later, you become fluent. Furthermore, those who hone their speaking skills can even make a job out of it.
► The openness to new experiences requires a predisposition towards looking stupid and ignorant. As for mastery, it requires extra time and effort.
It is common sense. But there is a catch. We tend to limit it to children, students, and mentorees who evolve in an environment where “it is okay to lack the knowledge and make mistakes “.
However, when it comes to further stages in life, our fears and social pressure take over.
We avoid looking stupid. Trying something new seems crazy. We sacrifice our growth for a social or professional image.
Nevertheless, deep down we all want to grow. It is in our DNA. Growth means overcoming challenges and gaining a better understanding of ourselves and life. It is a survival instinct. History proves that well-informed humans have been more likely to survive.
It is still true nowadays, we need to keep up with ever-evolving technologies. We are facing environmental challenges, health issues, and geopolitical tensions. Plus, our emotional responses are exposed to inevitable disruptions.
Moreover, growth means getting better at who we are and what we do. It means leading a life with increasing conveniences. Not to mention the self-gratification earned from successful advancement. The minimum score you get from venturing is a valuable experience.
Eventually, you could come to realize, that your new project, hobby or job does not turn you on. This does not deny your progress. Detours are systematically packed with novelties. Besides, new experiences give you momentum and fill you with courage for the next attempts.
On the other hand, you might wind up uncovering your passion or your purpose in life.
► Either way, you are stepping beyond your comfort zone. Getting out of the latter is like a muscle. The more you train it, the better it gets.
🛑⚠️ Now, before you go out there and unleash your inner fool, I must warn you :
Your defense mechanisms and many social factors will try to get in your way. In fact, a significant part of us humans loves the Statu Quo. Yet, our growth is right across our comfort zone.
Therefore, when you ask a stupid question in a meeting when your voice shakes as you ask someone out and when your homemade recipe tastes awful, remember that you are one step closer to your best self. Whenever hesitation grips you, ask yourself :
► When was the last time I tried something for the first time?