How to be Smart about being Dumb

Everyone has dumb ideas, even you. The real problem isn’t dumb ideas, it’s no one challenges them.

Untested brilliance is stupidity waiting to happen.

broken light bulb

I’m filled with ideas. Frankly, I’ve never met a new idea I didn’t love. From my point of view, my ideas are genius. But, experiences shows most aren’t.

Unchallenged leaders are dumb at the beginning and dangerous in the end.

If you can’t convince your team that your idea is brilliant, you have the wrong team or the wrong idea.


Hone your ideas with others.

I meet informally with seven leaders to gather input and feedback on what I’m thinking.

Once a month, I invite my “cabinet” to evaluate my performance, get input on new ideas, and confirm or correct my observations.

Last month, I shared a key factor to success that I believed we were missing. Everyone agreed with my assessment. We’re rapidly moving to address this issue.

This month, I brought up a “brilliant” idea regarding social media. There was universal dissent. I thought it was genius. They thought it was terrible! I’m rethinking.


The way you respond to being challenged gives people permission to speak-up or encourages them to shut-up. Don’t defend, explore.

Dumb leaders can’t be challenge.

Lousy leaders take being challenged personally.


Model the pursuit of excellence.

I want the people on my cabinet to participate in my pursuit of excellence. In the process, I’m encouraging them to pursue excellence for themselves.

Note: I haven’t given up on my social media idea. It’s coming up again, believe me.

How can leaders protect themselves from their own “brilliance?”