…only the fool thinks he is wise; the wise man knows himself to be a fool. Perhaps to be educated is to be a fool. The wise man knows that for the small pile of books and experiences that lay behind him, there are infinitely more to go.
– Sarah Kaplan, September 1997
Sarah Kaplan – Sarah Beth Kaplan – was my name for the first 25 years of my life. I wrote the above in my very first semester of college and am both amused at my default to a male every-person and by the perspective that I get every so often of how I can have a solid intellectual understanding of a thing long before it seeps into my emotional or behavioral self.
See, in 1997, I was still terrified of being a fool, and especially being perceived as a fool.
Same goes for 2007.
In 2013… well, things started changing rapidly in 2013. In August of 2013 – August 7, to be exact – I sat down at a table in a coffee shop across from a woman who had agreed to be my first coaching client. That she made this agreement with full knowledge that I had just started with both my first mentor coach and my coach training was, I suppose, a sign of her generosity and curiosity.
During a session with her, I asked some question or another and though I have zero recollection of the nature of the question, I remember clearly thinking that it had bombed. I remember berating myself internally and then forcing myself to try a fresh angle, keep the session moving.
At the end of the hour, when I asked her what was valuable to her from that session, it was that very question that she noted. That was the question that she would be seeking an answer to in the weeks to come.
And that was when I finally started embracing the beauty, the joy, the fun, the value in being a fool.
Since then, I’ve had innumerable reminders to embrace the foolishness of not knowing.
Foolishness has gotten me out of the way of clients unlocking the vault of their own wisdom.
Foolishness has allowed me to coach people through building businesses that I understood not one iota.
Foolishness has been the fixed point around which the feedback loop of learning and sharing has been swinging with increasing speed over the last seven years.
Learning -> Sharing -> Learning -> Sharing ad infinitum.
For the last few weeks, as I’ve been approaching this 7th anniversary of launching my coaching career – which is a pretty understated way of describing when I made the best, most joyful, most gratitude provoking decision of my professional life – I’ve been wondering if I could sum up what I’ve learned to share with you.
And the answer was no, no way, there’s just too much… until I realize it all groups under the umbrella of learning to allow myself to be the fool.
If you’re resisting the wisdom of your inner fool, let’s talk; I know the foolish questions that will allow you to map your way. If you’d like to join the community I share my learning/sharing feedback loop with every week, check out The Bigger Badder Crew.