“That was stupid of me!” If you aren’t saying that to yourself at least once a week, you’re not getting as smart as you could.
When do I feel stupid?
Whenever I don’t operate optimally. Either due to a failure to plan correctly, to think effectively, or to find an obvious solution.
It’s cliché to say that you learn from your mistakes, but this is different. Most people don’t even register their own stupidity, and when they do, they quickly sweep it under the rug.
What is stupidity anyway?
Einstein said it best when he defined it as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So doing something stupid doesn’t mean you have a low IQ; it means you’re not learning from experience (yes, I’m an incremental theorist).
Stupidity is a failure to change, to adapt.
As the paleoanthropologist Rick Potts explains, what has taken us from caves to rocket science is our gradual ability to adapt to variation itself. In other words, we became increasingly allergic to inflexibility (read: stupidity).
Feeling stupid is a signal.
Don’t shy away from noticing your own stupidity, and welcome the unpleasant feeling it creates like a straight-shooting messenger. Receptiveness (self-awareness) is indeed the prerequisite first step of any learning.
So whenever you act stupid or fail to act smart, don’t shake your head in disbelief and rush to forget about it. Rather, grab that info and course correct. This is the be-all and end-all of learning.