Monday, February 15, 2010

Be the Dumbest Person in the Room

Would you rather be the smartest one in the room, or be in a room where everyone is smarter? This question was recently posed to me by Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach. Sullivan went on to say that most people sitting around trying to prove how smart they are, but what do they get from this? Admiration? A confidence boost? Maybe, but how does this help them grow?

It doesn’t. I grow a lot more when I’m the dumbest guy in the room. I’m still the same guy as I was hours earlier, but now I’m afforded the opportunity to learn from people who know so much more than I do. And this got me thinking: I’m always the dumbest guy in the room. Sometimes I’m the best wealth legacy coach, or I know the most about the tax code. Sometimes I’m better educated, but I’m always the dumbest guy in the room.

Every single person I encounter knows more about something than I do. My challenge is to shut up and listen to them, to stop worrying about a bruised ego, and to learn how to grow from other people’s wisdom.
Today’s Challenge: With each person you encounter, remind yourself that you are the dumbest one in the room. Ask yourself: What can I learn from this person?
--Tony Rose is the author of Say Hello to the Elephants: A Four-Part Process for Finding Clarity, Confronting Problems, and Moving On.


  1. Great points. To me, the point is that no one listens. Our culture doesn't encourage us to listen, never mind understand. We end up a bunch of talking heads talking nothing but nonsense. Time for a change.

  2. Loved your post. It reminds me of a lesson I learned when I first received my black belt and realized how little I knew. Beginners became some of my best teachers and made me a better student.

    Later, when I studied tai chi, my teacher would urge me to let myself be pushed without attempting to push back. By being the dumb one, playing with the energy without needing to look good, he said I would one day be able to know others better than they knew themselves. He was right.

    To this day, "I don't know" allows me to be dumb and open to knowing. It makes me a better listener and student of life.

    I look forward to reading your book.

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