Every day I feel dumb
Scott Smith, Class of 2013
partner/mediator, Campbell Kyle Proffitt LLP
Every day I feel dumb. Not all day, but yes, every day. As a father, husband, lawyer, businessman, friend, or otherwise I have been asked questions to which I do not know the answer. In fact, I might (and often do) say, “I don’t know.” I feel doubt and uncertainty.
I think that is alright though, because even though I say “I don’t know” and feel dumb at times, I am willing to figure out the answer. I am willing to take on a challenge.
The challenge to find an answer is not always a great feat. Sometimes the question is how are we going to get the kids to all of their activities, eat dinner, clean up, feed the cat (and fish, and lizard), get homework checked and get to bed at a decent hour. Sometimes the question before me though is much more significant than managing time – a time-sensitive complex legal question or business decision involving serious consequences. Quite frankly though, no matter the gravity of the question or the challenge before me, I must do something...I must start. Nothing removes doubt, uncertainty and ignorance like initiative. As soon as I take the lead to answer a question, I begin to remove doubt and I may even after a while feel a bit smarter…someday.
Leadership is about removing doubt. A leader does not know the answer or response to questions and situations. But a leader is willing to admit it and move forward to figure it out. Isn’t that where all accomplishments, big or small, start? A leader initiates action and takes on a mission in order to achieve a vision.
Leaders may at times feel dumb and indeed, leaders are not always right. Leadership is humbling and gives perspective. Leadership is accepting the unknown and doing something about it.
Is there a way to free the world from hunger, sickness and poverty? Is there a way to end terrorism and war? Is there a way for non-profits to be free of fundraising or for business and enterprise to be unconcerned with profit and loss? Is there a way to be a better spouse, friend or parent? Is there a way to manage time well? Is there a way to accomplish a goal, to fulfill a vision? Is there a way to help? Is there a way to make a difference? Raise your hand. Say, “I don’t know.” Feel dumb. Then start.