One of the most heartbreaking things we hear whether via e-mail or at our firesides is this notion that some of the young adults we meet, don’t feel like they can do x, y or z because they are just too dumb to do it. There is no such thing as being dumb. Yes, it may take you a little more effort than others to grasp certain ideas but all of us are that way with different areas of our lives. For example, for my day job I do cardiovascular genetic research at LDS Hospital. I can talk to the vast majority of individuals in the world and probably know more about cardiovascular genetic research than most. However, I’m constantly in meetings, conferences or other situations that I have absolutely no idea what is going on. Does this make me dumb? No, it just means I have some work to do when it comes to obtaining more knowledge or putting it in another way, I’ve got some learning to do. Just as we don’t criticize an infant for not being able to do everything that they will be able to do as an adult; we shouldn’t be overly critical of ourselves when we run into our own “learning opportunities” in our lives.
All of us have areas that we understand better than others. Should I look down on a mechanic because his area of expertise is different than mine? Should an author look down on me because their understanding of English, grammar and story telling is more finely tuned than mine? All of us are “dumb” in the context that there are always areas for us to learn and grow because of the lack of knowledge we have in those different areas. That being said no one is “dumb” in the context that they just don’t have the capacity to learn or grow in this life. Going back to the title of this post…you’re not dumb, you’re learning.
Let me share another personal story from my own life. I used to do stand up comedy. When I first started I was awful. My jokes were good but my delivery was awkward. I would stutter, lose my train of thought and overall it was just really bad. A friend of mine who had originally invited me to come do stand up with him watched my routine and told me “Your jokes are funny but the problem is you. You’re not funny. Your delivery is killing you.”
The problem was that as hard as I tried, I had a slight speech impediment and I would continue to stumble over my jokes. I almost decided to stop altogether but then that same friend suggested, “why not make your awkward delivery, part of your routine?” And so I did.
It is funny how often in life the weaknesses that we so often use as an excuse for not doing something, can in fact help us become better at whatever it is that we are trying to do. My poor delivery, which was causing me to be such a bad stand up comedian, turned out to be a positive thing in the end and helped me to become a better one.
I have since worked on my delivery over and over again and I’m a much better speaker than I once was (who would have ever thought a kid with a speech impediment would now be doing public speaking on a regular basis?)
When you come across roadblocks, work your hardest to get around them. If you can’t get around them, then utilize them to help make your weaknesses become your strengths. Don’t give up the great opportunity you have to learn and grow because of some antedated idea that you’re too dumb or too stupid to learn. Again, you’re not dumb, you’re learning and knowing the difference will greatly impact how you face the various challenges in life that you will most certainly face.