We all remember the famous line from the Forrest Gump movie: “Stupid is as stupid does.” It’s repeated throughout.
When first used, it’s simply a retort that Mama Gump taught young Forrest to say to bullies who call him names. Consider it analogous to, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” It’s a gracious way to defuse fighting words.
As the movie progresses, Forrest uses the phrase in response to people who question his intelligence, his motives, and his actions.
Only once does Forrest acknowledge the hurt those words inflict on his psyche. It’s New Year’s Eve and the sleazy girls have just unceremoniously left Lt. Dan’s apartment. Forrest laments, “[Lt. Dan] didn’t want to be called crippled, just like I didn’t want to be called stupid.”
So let’s state for the record that stupid is not a nice word. Calling someone stupid is mean spirited. Calling someone stupid hurts those who are labeled as such. Calling someone stupid is something parents teach children not to say.
Interestingly, one definition of stupid is ‘proceeding from mental dullness.’
While I’m not advocating mental dullness, I will advocate proceeding … I do advocate taking action … and I strongly advocate making things happen.
It seems to me that too often action isn’t taken because we don’t have all the answers. Our mental acuity gets in the way of proceeding … we demand answers before we’re willing to go forward.
So just maybe … mental dullness can be our ally in getting things done.
Here is a list of reasons why stupid is as stupid does can be a good thing.
- When you’re stupid, it’s OK for you to admit that you don’t know.
- When you’re stupid, others are more willing to help, offer advice, and cheer for your success.
- When you’re stupid, the things you think you already know don’t get in the way of new learning.
- When you’re stupid, your preconceptions do not stop you from experimenting.
- When you’re stupid, not knowing isn’t a problem … not knowing is an opportunity.
- When you’re stupid, the reasons why something won’t work are unknown … making something work is all you know.
- When you’re stupid, you can start a business with possibilities, while smart people do not start because they know it could potentially fail.
- When you’re stupid, you take chances that can succeed wildly, while smart people stay cautiously safe in mediocrity.
- When you’re stupid, you can buy a shrimp boat, work hard, and become a gazillionaire.
Why are we so afraid of looking stupid?
Why do we need all the answers before we’re willing to proceed?
What stupid thing have you done that’s turned out to be wildly successful?
Next Blog Title: Better Words for Stupid
Next Blog Date: June 27, 2011