Better Stupid than Lazy…

iStock_000016462411_SmallOr is it better lazy than stupid?

Seth Godin prefers stupid to lazy, but what he is really describing is a trade-off our ego makes. Depending on our norms, we make different trade-offs.

In short, we are willing to admit one negative characteristic about ourselves in order to protect ourselves from looking like another, far worse characteristic.

I am the exact opposite of Seth. For years I was a pathological procrastinator and despised how lazy I was. But it was comfortable misery. I couldn’t bear to confront that I wasn’t smart enough, that I had reached the ceiling of my capacity. I was only able to break out of this laziness when I was willing to face my fear of being stupid.

My wife, however, is like Seth. She’s willing to admit she’s incapable but don’t ever accuse her of being lazy.

It has to do with how we (un)consciously manage our fear of others’ (and our own) judgments. There are norms or negative characteristics emotionally buried in each of us. One set of them is worse than the others and carries the threat of social rejection (more terrifying than death). We’ll do anything to avoid that, including a lot of sophisticated self-sabotage.

So take a look at your trade-off. Whatever you are willing to be is your camouflage, protecting you from experiencing what is unacceptable. The latter is your deeper fear.

What are your ‘trade-offs’?  Good luck breaking the mold!

  1. Karen Leland says:

    Shayne; I think this is hysterical. I would sooo rather been seen as not knowing than lazy. I’m with Lara on that one. Great post, thanks. Looking forward to Shared Mastery in a few weeks.

  2. Marc-Andre Olivier says:

    I am definitely in the “better lazy than stupid” camp.
    Now is there a gender line here?

  3. Stephanie Hooker says:

    Marc-Andre: Not sure if it is a gender thing, but might it have something to do with cricket/ant tendencies? I’m a cricket and much more Ok with being viewed as lazy than stupid. My husband, in my humble opinion, suffers from the opposite affliction (an ant who would rather be called anything but lazy). I’ve been able to develop a much better attitude toward some of my chores at home when I step back and realize what fear is driving me (like not asking for help with the stupid sprinkler system and just dealing with a puddle of water in the backyard all summer). Thanks for the post, Shayne, it was a great and timely reminder.

    1. Marc-Andre Olivier says:

      Stephanie: you got it absolutely right 😉
      And singing in the puddle all summer seems a good fit for a cricket, no?

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