I often like to visit Tim Ferris’ website for interesting blog posts to read. I noticed a new one called “The Master and the Fool”. Just the title was so intriguing!
“The Master and the Fool” is actually the title of the epilogue of the book “Mastery” by George Leonard, which Ferris obtained permission from the publishing house to post on his website.
The story is about an experience the author had with a mountain man from the Los Padres National Wilderness Area.
The mountain man wanted to know “how [he could] be a learner”.
To which the author responded:
“It’s simple. To be a learner, you’ve got to be willing to be a fool.”“Mastery” by George Leonard
When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I remember being in the car with my parents and older brothers. I was asking my dad a lot of questions, and by his responses it was clear that he was getting annoyed with me.
One of my brothers told my dad “Let her ask questions, she is in that stage of life where she is learning and wants to know about everything”.
(That memory always has seemed so insignificant to me, and I’ve always wondered why is it one of the ones I remember.)
Unfortunately, it is common that as grow older we began to lose that curiosity we have as kids. We stop becoming eager to gain knowledge. And we stop asking questions or suggesting ideas out of fear of looking stupid, or like a fool.
Worst of all, just like my dad in that memory of mine, we get annoyed at those asking us questions to get knowledge out of us.
“How many times have you failed to try something new out of fear of being thought silly? How often have you censored your spontaneity out of fear of being thought childish?”“The Master and the Fool” by Time Ferris
Personally, I think that one of the reasons why I have been successful at school and in my work is because I am the kind of person that asks questions and I’m not afraid to feel stupid for asking them.
On my last day of high school, I went to get my transcript and noticed that I was #1 in my school. I walked back to the classroom and told two of my teachers that were there.
One of them said “You look so giddy!”.
“What does giddy mean?” I asked.
Here was the #1 student asking what the word “giddy” means. (I feel so embarrassed now that I think back to that day, and I ask myself “how did I not know what giddy” means?”)
The truth is, it’s exactly that kind of attitude the reason why I was #1 in my school. I could have ignored the comment, pretended I understood, and changed the subject.
But instead, I wanted to know, to learn, and I didn’t care about looking like a “fool”, even on my last day of school.
Who knew that the word “fool” could have such a positive connotation!
How are you going to make a fool out of yourself today?