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How to Think Like a Fool in 60 Ways

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #47: Know Everything

PRETEND: Know Everything
“All men are frauds. The only difference between them is that some admit it. I myself deny it.”
—Henry Louis Mencken
"If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism."
—Oscar Wilde

In the Commedia tradition, as well as many other comic traditions, there is the character type known as Il Dottore, The Doctor. He is a scholar who claims to know something about everything, and everything about something. Without hesitation, he can expound on any topic while simultaneously being completely full of it.

Fools pretend to know everything. It's a survival tactic. They appear to be frauds and impostors when they take on a job they are not qualified for. But how else would they get the job? And where else would they get the confidence to try anything new?

In this clip, starting about 2 minutes and 30 seconds into it, Lucille Ball auditions to be in Desi's band:

I often feel like I am one or two (or many) steps behind my next performing, teaching, or directing challenge. The Catch-22 is that I can't learn and improve without reaching beyond my current capabilities. I'm guessing it's that way for many people, no matter their level of success.

When you are full of self-doubt, it's time to take on the part of a know-it-all. You risk falling flat on your face, but you find that you know more than you think you do, and what you don't know, you can learn.

Think: What if I knew everything about a topic or problem? How would I move, talk, and act? What if I became who I pretended to be?

Next: How to Think Like a Fool #48: Enjoy Failure

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