I know, you’re really smart. Got it. That’s why you’re founding a company that’s going to change the world. Great. Soon Larry and Sergey will be calling you on for advice.
I feel the same way about myself. Can’t wait.
But until then, I need to convince myself that I’m stupid. Or at least fully internalize the fact that there are too many landmines in my future to count, and that I, in my current state, have almost no chance of avoiding them. What can help, though, is leaning on the advice from folks who have stepped on a few mines themselves.
Here’s the problem though: hardheadedness is the whole reason I’m an entrepreneur to begin with. Irrational optimism, the belief that I can build a future no one else has yet, skepticism of conventional wisdom– these traits are the lifeblood of successful entrepreneurs. Unfortunately they can also be the downfall. How do I balance learning from those who have gone before me with rightfully discarding the doubts of those who will be proved wrong by the future?
My first step is to think about my own blindspots in advance, and then build guardrails for the future. (SPOILER ALERT: I have no idea if this will work.) Is my bias to dismiss good advice, or to be overly swayed by everyone’s opinions? Personally, I suffer from hardheadedness — but not always. There are some people whose opinions I highly value — especially when they contradict my own. These are all people I know very well. They’ve earned my respect over time, which unfortunately means that new people I meet — i.e. the many people who will help me avoid landmines — are not in my “trusted” group.
So as a first step, I want to treat the opinions and advice from everyone as if the it came from someone I respect immensely. If the idea contradicts my own beliefs, I’ll dig to find what the other person is seeing that I’m not. In short, I’ll approach each situation with the belief that I’m stupid.
(Note: A good first step would probably be to think of myself as being “humble” rather than “stupid,” but then no one would want to read my blog post.)