Show up stupid every day —  March 23, 2015

Interesting phrase, isn’t it? I picked it up from a great book on leadership I read last week. The title:

Fairness is overrated by Tim Stevens (

The concept is simple but not easy. The author makes the case for showing up to work every day not as an expert, know-it-all, almighty guru that has mastered all knowledge, but as a humble learner that makes the assumption that in the last 24 hours a shift may have happened that can dramatically and fundamentally change how effective you are.

Here are three reasons to show up stupid every day:

  • No one likes a know-it-all.


No matter how spiritual you are, don’t you feel at least a small sense of gratitude when that know-it-all fails at something? Anything? Believe me, we all know one that believes they are all that. We all have a know-it-all in our lives. If you can’t figure who among your friends/coworkers it is…it’s probably you! The major difference between leaders and know-it-alls is on how they make you feel. Leaders make you feel safe. Know-it-alls make you feel stupid.

  • By the time you have mastered it (whatever “it” is), it’s obsolete.


What took thousands of years to figure out, now takes seconds, maybe less. This generation can fact-check a sermon WHILE YOU ARE PREACHING IT, and with the availability of information, it is dangerous to the prosperity of an organization to say: Mission accomplished. You never arrive. There is no finish line. Like Donkey Kong, you just move to a higher level. Remember that the enemy of future success is past success.

  • The deeper your humility, the higher your tolerance for failure.


Showing up stupid means acknowledging the fact that failure is expected. You are not the master of the universe. You are neither the man nor the messiah. When you wake up today, understand that to get to that proverbial next level, you must accept the fact that failure will occur.

Only leaders that show up stupid every day will have the courage admit that in order to lead you must have the humility to learn how to.

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