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  • Writer's pictureJohn Selzer

Let The Idiot Speak

This post is not about what you think.

Let’s face it. Humans are hypercritical. We are judging books by their covers the second we enter the library.

It’s not our fault, though.

This reaction is instinctual, driven by our own experiences and the universal truths they form. It’s the filter through which we view the world. As a result, we are held firmly in place by the comforting belief that these convictions we cling to are written in stone. And true.

It is not unexpected, then, that we find value only in that which fits neatly into our narrowed minds.

When we need advice, we tend to only seek out those we perceive to be experts. That somehow the ones that made it through the knot and found success are the keepers of the only knowledge worth tapping.

What a flawed view of how the world works and where value can be found.

Sometimes it is the least informed – the ‘idiots’, so to speak – that give the best insights.

Those without deep experience give honest and immediate responses. Right from their gut and off the top of their heads. While they sometimes miss the mark – the lack of full understanding may yield diminished value – often it is that very innocence that reveals the most wisdom.

If you are free from experience bias – those things we know to be true – then your reaction is clean and uncontaminated. It is real.

I love bouncing ideas off my son. At eight years old, he is not burdened with a litany of life experience. Inherent biases and expectations have not yet been established. Instead, his reactions are innocent, pure – and much of the time, spot on.

If the boy gets it, then I am onto something. I know that my message or concept is true and clear.

Beyond the innocent, there is also great wisdom to be gleaned from failure. Never overlook those that crashed and burned.

From the ashes of failure comes great learning. Greater, even, than those that ‘won’. The wisdom may be a little soiled, but once the soot is wiped clean, the lesson shines bright like a diamond. It is the phoenix waiting to spread its wings and take flight again.

Advice is like a mixed salad. A bowl full of just lettuce is pretty damn boring and unsatisfying. (And what kind of monster would do that?) But, it can be delightful when you throw in a random array of ingredients to add that crunch, burst of flavor or the dressing that ties the whole thing together.

A meal is made with variety of ingredients. Feedback is no different. Each opinion gathered plays a valuable role in the impact of the whole. They are data points, and from data you can infer and act in an informed way.

So put your biases aside. Open your mind.

Let the idiot speak.

It might be the most valuable thing you hear.


I long ago forgave the Old 97’s for the errant use of an apostrophe in their name. Years of producing solid tunes trumps proper grammar. This song has the fun, fast-paced alt-country feel that made the Old 97’s such an influential force in music. Plus, their being from Dallas adds street cred for this hometown boy.

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