While I was preparing for my MBA class last week, I got an email from Larry Winget on a recent blog post entitled “Its Easier to be Stupid” in which he makes the case for how much easier it is to not do something, or to let others do things for us, than it is to do them ourselves. During the class, in which we were discussing the work it takes to be a good manager, Larry’s email came to mind and I mentioned it to my students. I pointed out that for many of us in the room, “it’s easier to be stupid” and continue doing what we are doing than it is to do the real work that is required for success and effectiveness. As Larry points out, its easier to blame than it is to take responsbility.
We know when we are cutting corners, but its easier to cut them than to do what is necessary to make them right. How many of us have complained “there’s no leadership”, but then don’t offer any ourselves? And how many of us have said “yes” to something we know at the time we aren’t going to do rather than deal with the upset of saying no at the time? Managers know that performance can’t improve without feedback, but then find it easier not to give the feedback and blame poor performance on the employee than do the work of developing constructive feedback.
It takes practice to be good at something. In fact, to be a world class expert requires 10,000 hours of practice. Few of us are willing to invest that kind of time at something. Bobby Knight, the basketball coach, is suppose to have said “Everyone wants to play on a championship team, but no one wants to come to practice.” This is another form of “its easier to be stupid”. Management, particularly good management, takes work. Few people are naturally good managers and leaders. It takes practice, which apparently most of us, myself included, are not always willing to invest.
Larry’s right, it is easier to be stupid. But, contrary to the comedian Ron White’s assertion, it is possible to “fix stupid”.