3 Signs You are About to Make a STUPID Mistake

It all seems so STUPID.

In this article, we discuss 3 signs that we are about to make a stupid mistake.  As leaders in business, we are smart to recognize these signs and make the smart decisions that maximize our performance, production, and profits in this wonderful opportunity for radical change and disruptive innovation.

Those that follow me know I write about thinking bigger and reaching higher to realize your breakthrough success. I help aspiring and emerging make their pivotal success.

Stupid Stop sign

Pivotal Decisions

We are living in an incredible age. Never before have we had so many incredible opportunities to pivot to what we ultimately want. Yes, even in the midst of the pandemic restrictions, we still have more opportunities at our fingertips than at any time in the history of the world.

Yet, many of us will miss our best opportunities that would get us what we ultimately want. Organizations will struggle needlessly.


Because we make S.T.U.P.I.D. mistakes.

Look around and you will see executives, managers, and employees making stupid decisions. It doesn’t have to be that way.

S.T.U.P.I.D. Decisions

S.T.U.P.I.D. stands for “Stagnant Thinking Undermining Potentially Incredible Decisions.”

In my book, Stop Being S.T.U.P.I.D. in Times of Opportunity, soon to be retitled as I rebrand my catalog, I defined stupid around one keyword, “stagnant.” We close ourselves off from the moving, fresh, and living water of new ideas. Instead of challenging ourselves with the turbulence of change, we settle for what is most comfortable, predictable, and safe.

Even though that is nice, that is simply STUPID. Why such a harsh label?  Because stagnant thinking limits our choices, makes us stagnant, and ruins our future. This is the time for smart decisions that allow us to pivot to what we ultimately want.

It is stupid to settle for mediocre when we can have the ultimate with a little effort.

We settle for mediocre because we quit allowing the river of fresh ideas to stimulate us. We become complacent with what is when the next level of success is available.

How stagnant is your thinking?

How willing are you to go outside your comfort zone to get what you ultimately want?

SIGN #1: We Ingore Opportunities

Too often we convince ourselves that we have it real good right here and right now. Yes, it is good to live in the moment, but in a world of rapid and radical change, we need to always be tracking the trends and forecasting the opportunities. We must always be willing to pivot to our next normal where we will find our next, great opportunity.

No wonder we don’t see the signs that we could and should be doing better.  

Sometimes that comes in justifying past decisions to stay where we are. We don’t own stupid decisions. We are too embarrassed to say, “I blew it” or “My bad.”

Then, like the sign below, we claim that others misinterpreted us.

If we had said, “That was a good opportunity. It would have opened others to what I wanted.” Notice that admitting your mistake allows you to make a better decision the next time. It opens you up while defending closes you down. Refusing to pivot makes us stagnant, stuck in the muck of a decaying mindset that fails to see the best options. But by admitting our mistakes, we make ourselves available to the oxygen needed to look ahead and find great opportunities.

Admit when you should have known better. Smart thinking enables us to do what stagnant thinking considers impossible.

stupid sign 4

SIGN #2: We Think Either-Or

Pivotal breakthroughs occur when we decide to take a quantum leap instead of trudging through small, incremental change. Meanwhile, disruptive innovation comes when we purposely change the paradigm we use, seeing the world from a different perspective and offering solutions that many never imagined possible.

When we make mistakes, we fail to see the solution because we rely on our assumptions (basic beliefs and values). Notice what that does. It blinds us to the 3rd alternative (and more) because our perspective only shows two viable choices.  Stupid mistakes come when we didn’t see that we had additional choices that were much better.

One controversial topic comes to mind. In response to Covid vaccinations, social distancing, and mask-wearing, too many have made the decision political. “If I wear a mask or get the vaccination, I’m allowing the government to take away my rights.”

Notice the either-or thinking focused on one assumption. They have used politics to limit their choices and endanger their lives. Instead of doing the research and leaving the political agenda aside, they made it their priority. That’s what political parties and organizations want you to do because it creates loyal followers that benefit them. Your well-being isn’t their priority, their political survival is. Those who chose to make it political failed to determine what was ultimately best for them. Instead, they listened to others who had their own agenda.

Imagine what happens when we think beyond the either-or?

When we choose to listen to science untainted by politics, we see options for protecting ourselves and enjoying our liberties. With a mask and vaccination, we can travel, enjoy sporting events, and do a variety of other activities while working to suppress the virus. Maybe the best, by respecting that the evolving nature of science, we will continually update our knowledge that leads to the best decisions. If everyone worked together instead of seeing it as either liberal or conservative, this virus would become manageable like its predecessors. Isn’t that what we all want?

To risk your health for an organization is rather stupid, isn’t it?

To risk your health based on a political assumption is pretty stupid, isn’t it?

Stagnant thinking settles for the easy answer based on a prior belief or value. Smart thinking challenges our assumptions to make the best decision that leads to our ultimate opportunity.

One way to determine if you are using an assumption to make a critical decision is the number of alternatives you are shown. Learn to think bigger, challenging your assumptions.

You don’t have to live on Stupid Street. There are much better options.

How are you allowing your assumptions to interfere with making smart decisions?

SIGN #3: We Watch, Listen, and Read to Confirm

We miss great opportunities when we spend too much time with like-minded people. Instead of watching, listening, or reading to learn from those that challenge us, we settle for those that make us comfortable.

Warren Buffet spends 80% of his day reading. One of the traits that makes him so successful is that he is willing to be wrong. So he reads extensively to gather the best information and opinions. He cannot afford to only read one source.

Yet, isn’t that what we do? We tend to listen to the same news, podcasts, friends, and family. We believe the same people under the guise that we have found someone we like and trust.

Notice how that stagnates our thinking.

Instead, we need to explore a diversity of sources, information, and opinions. We need to think again as Adam Grant writes in his new book.

Smart Tips:

  • Admit when you are wrong.
  • Look for Additional Alternatives.
  • Watch, Listen, and Read All Sides




I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I develop aspiring and emerging leaders pivot to their breakthrough success.   Contact me today to begin your pivot. Contact me for your free, 20-minute strategy session.

Check out our podcast on working smarter.

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(c) Murfield International, Inc.  2021

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