It’s important to be unafraid of looking like an idiot. It’s also important to minimize the cost of looking like an idiot.

The higher the cost, the greater the fear, which strangles innovation and learning. It’s easy to focus on the “don’t be afraid to look like an idiot” part and forget about the lowering the cost component. True, you don’t want to shut yourself down to avoid looking dumb, but you might harm yourself without even knowing it by being dumb in high cost environments.

It helps to pick a padded room where you can be an idiot without hurting yourself.

In my case, I use people.

I get a lot of ideas that feel super awesome. I’m very action biased so I want to go do all of them immediately. Unfortunately, the majority of the ideas turn out to be dumb. Before I go talking about or acting on them, I’ve learned to test them in an environment where the cost of stupidity is very low.

I call my brother Levi or my friend TK.

They are both great idiot sponges. I’ve heard Secret Service agents called “bullet sponges”, since their job is to jump in front of a bullet to protect their client if need be. These guy absorb my stupid ideas before they have a chance to harm anyone. They provide the padded room I can be reckless in without harming myself too much.

Most of my big ideas now get filtered through one or both of them before I take any other action. They allow me to have the best of both worlds. Fearlessness about my reputation or looking dumb, and near-costlessness for when I do.

I can’t tell you how many times they’ve saved me from my own stupidity.

Find an idiot sponge and use them.