The Big Secret to Avoid Looking Like a Fool

Looking like a fool: we’ve all done it. We all dread it. From the infamous “showing up in our underwear” nightmare to the fear of public speaking – we are constantly afraid of looking like a fool. But there is good news! There is one, deep, well hidden secret we can all use to avoid making a fool of ourselves. Are you ready to learn this secret? Are you sure? Good, here it is:

Businessman looking like a foolDon’t Worry About Looking Like a Fool.

There it is. It’s that easy. I know, I know… it sounds much too simple. Let me use an example where I recently made a fool of myself to demonstrate:

How I Made a Fool of Myself With Jars of Clay

If you don’t know them, Jars of Clay is an amazing Contemporary Christian band. I am a fan of their work and heard recently that my friend, Joel Tanis was working with them on a project. However, it caught me off guard when Joel introduced me to them at a recent church service. During the sharing of the peace, Joel introduced them all to me by name. Individually, I’m not sure I would have made the connection, but together, I was pretty sure it was the band. At that point, I was still “cool”.

Sitting in front of them for the remainder of the service, I thought about how I would remain cool. I wanted to let them know I appreciated their music. However, I was not completely certain this was Jars of Clay. Worrying about making a fool of myself in front of Joel, I had to find a way to say it carefully…. that is how I made a fool of myself.

After the service, I turned around again and chatted briefly with Joel. Then I turned to Charlie Lowell and, seeking to confirm they were Jars of Clay, I blurted out, “You guys sing, right?” As the words spilled from my mouth I wished I could take them back.

In good humor though, Charlie chuckled, “Yeah, we’ve been known to sing…” I had just made a fool of myself.

In leadership and work, we have opportunities to make a fool of ourselves all the time. These opportunities could come with larger consequences than my own example. So it’s important that we stop this nonsense.

What happens when you worry about making a fool of yourself

1. You Over-think the Solution: When we over-think a solution at the office, we create excessive analysis and waste resources.

2. You Become Nervous: When you’re nervous, people lose confidence in you and your proposals.

3. You’re Not Yourself: If you’re not acting like yourself, those who know you, realize it. Those who do not, assume this is the way you always are.

So the next time you worry about making a fool of yourself, don’t. Remember, that is the big secret to it all. By not worrying about it, you’ll avoid over-thinking it, remain confident and act like yourself. You’re no fool and people will realize it.

Question: Have you ever made a fool of yourself? Why not share it here for everyone to read, forever, as I just did?!


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

2 thoughts on “The Big Secret to Avoid Looking Like a Fool”

  1. Ben, great post! I doubt the world will start posting their most embarrassing moments here (but maybe I’m wrong!).  All of us in leadership positions will find ourselves exactly in this place.  I’ve yet to find the device I am seeking to help me (the one where you can hit stop, rewind, and then have a chance to redo something). We are also more sensitive when we want to create a favorable impression, and yet I bet Jars of Clay wouldn’t even remember the incident. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  2. Well I made a fool of myself by falling into the trap of scammers and lost $70. I felt particularly bad about that because I am usually a very cautious person. I don’t know why I lost my common sense at that moment when I made that purchase. I felt very embarrassed that I may have appeared greedy and dumb to bank personnel, whom I called and asked to block my Debit card 🙁

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