OH! Magazine - Australian Version April 2016 - Page 21

THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF STUPID... GREG SELLAR www.teamlifehack.com (Performance Coaching) Greg Sellar discusses the notion of stupidity. e all do stupid stuff from time to time, but Forrest Gump got it wrong when he declared ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’ W ‘Lazy’, ‘useless’, ‘dumb’, ‘incompetent’ – call it what you like – we get caught labelling ourselves because we think there must be a conscious reason why we’ve behaved at the high end of the dumb-scale. It’s important to know that you are not your actions and behaviours. You might do stupid stuff from time to time, but it doesn’t mean you are stupid. You might fail at something, but it doesn’t warrant the ‘I’m a failure’ tag we lump on ourselves. Using language to brand our identity is a dangerous exercise that can convince us we are less capable than we actually are. It also presupposes that we can’t change in the future. Mistakes can be rectified, and even for those that can’t this time around, you’ll have other opportunities. Listen within your language (whether spoken or not), to how many times a day you have a go at yourself and make identity statements based on what you do (or don’t do). The more we tie who we are into our actions and behaviours, the more it erodes our self-confidence and esteem. If we can learn to separate who we are from what we do, it’s more likely that we can succeed in the future. Balazs Aczel, a professor at the Institute of Psychology at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, conducted research in the surprisingly understudied area of ‘Unintelligent Behaviour’. He and his team were interested in what people viewed as being stupid behaviour, and how we became associated with those behaviours as people. He had a group of students rank perceived stupid behaviour found in the media from TMZ, New York Post and other outlets, on a scale of one to ten. Students also had to write a sentence or two on why they thought the actions and behaviours were stupid. Professor Aczel identified three types of stupidity, which rated as follows (from highest to lowest): 1. Confident ignorance: The highest level of stupidity defined as engaging in risky actions without the skills or knowledge required to carry them out successfully. When someone says they can do something and they clearly can’t, their overconfidence is labelled stupid. It isn’t, it’s just misguided relative to skill levels. The classic example is the thief who thought he stole a mobile phone, when in fact he stole a GPS, which the police used to track him down. 2. Lack of control: This rated second in the stupid stakes, as demonstrated by a lack of ability to moderate your own impulsive behaviour. An example might be to miss an important meeting because you wanted some extra time at the beach. 3. Absentmindedness / lack of practicality: The students were most lenient to these actions and behaviours, referring to instances where people failed a practical task (e.g., failing to make sense of the IKEA flat-pack), either out of distraction or because of a lack of practical skills. All three categories aren’t indicative of the person being stupid, or a failure, but of being misguided as to their current skill level, using misjudgement of a situation, or being temporarily absentminded. This suggests that a person can step out of these behaviours at any point, simply by recalibrating their expectations, by being realistic regarding their skill levels, by reprioritising, or by concentrating on the task at hand. The bottom line is, you’re not stupid. In fact, you’re actually just one step away from being a genius. YOU CAN CONTACT GREG VIA: Web: teamlifehack.com Facebook: greg.sellar Twitter: @gregsellar Instagram: @gregsellar ( OH! MAGAZINE ) APRIL 2016 21