“Genius” is an over-used term, but what does it mean? “Someone who has an unusually high level of intelligence, mental skill or artistic ability” is the dictionary definition.
In 1939, a young doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived late for a statistics class and quickly jotted down two equations that were left on the backboard. The supposed “homework” seemed harder than usual but he none-the-less managed to provide proof of the statistical theorems and gave them to the lecturer.
Weeks later the student was awakened one morning by banging at his front door. It was the lecturer with the “homework” in his hand saying that the student had solved two famous problems that had baffled mathematicians for decades!
This true story has been embellished and re-told many times but it does prove that individuals are capable of extraordinary accomplishments once unfettered by presumed limitations of their abilities.
Here are some factors that you may be lacking that, if explored, will help you uncover your inner genius.
The power of a mastermind group (real or imagined)
Most geniuses (I prefer that to “genii”) were mentees to other geniuses. Human beings adapt and take on characteristics of people in their surroundings.
We can be inspired to remarkable exploits with the encouragement by highly respected individual. Just imagine if Steve Jobs had congratulated you on some work you’d done, “hey, what you did there, I really liked that!”, how would you feel?
You don’t hang out with someone of Steve Jobs’ calibre? No worries! There are two things you can do. One, go out and meet them (I suggest LinkedIn, Facebook, MeetUp, Google+, etc.) to form a mastermind group. Two, imagine one…
Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich talks of imagining a mastermind group. Imagine discussing your design ideas with Steve Jobs, running over a few website ideas with Mark Zuckerberg, let’s say you need a bit of a leg up with social media so invite Gary Vaynerchuk into the group, and then you’d have illuminaries like Sir Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Charles Dickens, John Lennon, Oprah Winfrey and Andrew Carnegie popping in from time to time. What would they say about your ideas?
Would they poo-poo them? I don’t think so. They’d probably come up with different concepts off the back of them. What would they be? They’d also bounce ideas off each other. Imagine the interaction! Put yourself in the shoes of one of your heroes, you could come up with something you would not have otherwise.
Geniuses do seem to appear in the right place and at the right time. This is, of course, not a coincidence. It merely proves that there are, and have been, millions of undiscovered geniuses that were born at the wrong time for their talents to be recognised.
You may be naturally gifted at something that is perfectly useless at the moment but will be a much-demanded skill only a few years from now.
Einstein spent much of his working life in a menial clerical job – sound familiar? Only a few years ago working from home on your own business seemed an impossibility and now millions are doing it – each working towards that genius idea that will take them to the next level.
In the last few years, nobody could have predicted the rise of social media – in fact Twitter’s success as a social network came about as a mistake. What changes are we likely to see online in the next few years and what part can we play in them?
You may have been born at the “wrong” time but your time will come and it could be just around the corner. Be ready for it. Try to anticipate what will happen in the next five or ten years. You could dream up the next indispensable online tool.
The one thing geniuses have in common is failure. Only instead of using failure as and excuse to stop trying, they used it as an education.
Success, on the other hand, isn’t so good for you. Bill Gates famously wrote when recalling how late Microsoft was to realise the full potential of the internet:
Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.
Have you had a lot of failures recently? Good, they’ll put you on your way to becoming a genius. Ask yourself questions about why you failed. How can you stop it happening again? What will you do differently next time?
Plenty of times I have blamed my failures on forces outside my control. That’s an easy excuse. We need to be creative with our failures.
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” Albert Einstein
And, as Einstein tells us, be creative with our curiosities.
What you can do
You have probably only narrowly missed out being labelled a genius. Here are some more tips on how you can awaken your inner brilliance.
- Don’t strive for success or fame, instead be almost obsessive about being the best you possibly can at what you do
- Always carry a pencil and paper around with you to jot down those elusive “out-of-the-box” ideas
- Imagine you’re already a genius and ask yourself “what would a genius do”
- Communicate with the best in your area – always be on the look out for potential mentors, alive or dead!
- Learn from your mistakes and seek creative solutions to problems
- Get a stupid haircut
OK, maybe not the last one, but you made it to the end of the article. You’ve got sticking power – so you definitely have genius potential.
It could be that just a slight change in perspective will make all the difference. Try to imagine yourself like one of your heroes, or in conversation with one of your heroines, and reach “outside yourself” for new ideas. Ask yourself strange questions like “why is this the way it is?” Dare to predict the future.
This is a great way of avoiding the mundane and becoming extraordinary.