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The smartness of being the dumbest person in the room

If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

I'm still unpacking from FarCon and yes the suitcase is still on the floor. But more so, I'm still unpacking all the insights, ideas sparked, people met, lessons learned from FarCon. And there’s this one thing just hovering over it all – how did I even get in this room?

I’m not a dev. I can’t code beyond the minimal html I learned in the early 2000’s to create really awful websites. I’m not in tech. I’m not in finance. So wtf am I even doing here?

The brilliance of the FarCon attendees can not be oversold. (At lunch there was a side of the table reserved for MIT grads.) I had moments when I just knew I was hearing about something novel, innovative, groundbreaking, a peek into the mind of the next Jobs perhaps. But I also got the sense that even the true geniuses in the room weren’t fully aware of their brilliance. And I mean that in the best possible way.

I’ve often undersold my own intelligence and talents. Some of it is because it lies mostly in soft skills which tend to be less appreciated, even by me. Why do you think that is? (an unpacking for another time)

So in the past couple years, I’m often struck by “imposter syndrome,” this feeling like I don’t belong in the room and that if someone realizes it, they will throw me out. I think a lot of it stems from the impossibility of being an expert in this space. You can’t possibly be an expert on everything crypto, from Defi to NFTs to DAOs to smart contracts to all the tech, on every different blockchain.

But if you are teaching a class on blockchain like me, there’s a bit of need to be at least knowledgeable on all of it. So I’ll often find myself feeling like I don’t know enough and that there’s just not enough time in the day to learn it all. Becoming comfortable with that uncomfortableness isn’t easy.

So sitting at FarCon listening to presentations and meeting these amazing humans, I was left at times with that imposter syndrome feeling. But I rode the wave rather than run away. Because that feeling that I am the dumbest person in the room is the learning zone. That means I have an opportunity to learn from all of those in the room. And this was like drinking from a fire hose of smart.

If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

Unless you are there as the teacher or mentor of course. But even when I am in that position, if I am smart, I look for where students can teach me. It’s even what led me to start the blockchain class in the first place – the students wanted to learn more about crypto so someone had to help make that happen. Allowing myself to be uncomfortable yet open to expanding my brain has changed my life. And that is probably putting it mildly.

So these days, when I find myself thinking I am the dumbest person in the room and I have no business being there, I lean in. And am grateful I found my way here.

When was the last time you felt like the dumbest person in the room and what did you learn?

It’s day 3 of my challenge to write daily – so far so good. I love this advice from @MissMayaD:

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#farcaster#farcon#daos#nft#web3#cryptocurrency#imposter syndrome
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