Genius-Are YOU one? You might be amazed at the answer!

What is Genius?

Paul MacCready is a writer and inventor who has carefully studied genius and the ways people understand that concept. MacCready has evolved several categories of what genius seems to mean, and these can be useful starting point for defining what genius really is.

Genius-Just what does it mean and who has the potential?

In the first category is what Paul MacCready calls the “everyone agrees” geniuses. These people are the great icons of civilization, including Einstein, Leonardo daVinci, Shakespeare, and Michelangelo. Is there anybody who believes Einstein wasn’t a genius? I don’t think so — so this category is for the geniuses who are elected by unanimous consent. These are many of the same people who were mentioned in my own informal research. We’ll have much more to say about them in this session and throughout the program. In fact, most of our models for the various genius categories will be drawn from this group.

MacReady’s second category is the officially designated geniuses. These are the people who have won Nobel Prizes or other highly respected awards. Whether or not we understand what they’ve accomplished, we think of them as geniuses based on their recognition by people who are supposed to know one when they see one.

Do you have to say it to be it?

A third category includes people who haven’t yet gained national or international prominence, but who have done something so remarkable that they seem to be in a different realm from ordinary mortals. Some of these are the prodigy young people I mentioned earlier in this session — students who have won national science contests or gotten perfect scores on standardized tests. Often they’re not the best in the day to day conduct of school or business, but they have some special gift that eventually reveals itself. Quite often, these people are underachievers who struggle with shyness and low self-esteem. Their surprising success is surprising only because they’ve deliberately tried to stay in the background.

I think you can see how each of these three categories seems quite legitimate — but it’s the fourth one that’s really most important for this program. And you may be surprised to learn that the fourth category questions or even completely refutes the other three. Because the fourth category includes everybody. It’s based on the idea that we all have the potential for achievements that are wrongly considered possible for only a few. And there’s plenty of evidence for this. After all, the physical and mental challenges of learning to walk and talk are more difficult than anything we face later in life — yet the vast majority of human beings meet these challenges successfully.

True, it’s been argued that these primary skills are hardwired into our genetic makeup. But there are many things that the genetic argument can’t account for. In the 17th and 18th centuries, for example, it was simply expected that every member of the educated class would be able to read and speak several different languages, write poetry, play a musical instrument, and know much of the Bible by heart. Furthermore, all these skills were performed at a very high level and at very early ages. In other words, thousands of people routinely displayed abilities that today would be considered truly amazing — and perhaps even evidence of genius. But in those days what we call genius was just the fulfillment of society’s expectations.

When we speak of everybody being a genius in this sense, it doesn’t mean everyone has to get 800s on their SATs or have an IQ of 150 or above. It doesn’t mean everybody can play the violin or create beautiful oil paintings. Those are other ways of looking at the concept of genius. But right now, let’s go back to the origin of the word itself. A researcher by the name of Thomas Armstrong has done some excellent work on this. He points out that the word genius is closely related to the word genesis. It comes from Greek and Latin words meaning “beget,” “be born,” or ” come into being.” It’s also related to the word genial, meaning “festive” or “jovial.” In the Middle East, the term has been linked to the word jinni, or genie, the magical power that lay dormant and hidden in Aladdin’s lamp until a secret method released it.

Combining all these roots leads to a very powerful and beautiful definition of genius. It means “giving birth to your joy.” In this sense, genius is a word for an individual’s hidden potential. It also includes the process of discovering that potential and transforming it into action. But the first step is belief. The first step is certainty that you have greater capabilities than you thought. Not only do you have those capabilities — you also have a responsibility to develop them and put them to use.

What do YOU think genius is? Let’s start a discussion in the comments to this blog!

Dr. Tony Alessandra has authored 14 books translated into 17 foreign languages, recorded over 50 audio and video programs, and delivered over 2,000 keynote speeches since 1976.  This article has been adapted from Dr. Alessandra’s Nightingale-Conant audio CD series, Secrets of Ten Great Geniuses, available at http://www.alessandra.com/products.asp

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Knowledge-Should Never End

DEPTH AND BREADTH OF KNOWLEDGE

Depth of knowledge refers to how well you know your products and services–your particular area of expertise. How well do you know your company, your industry, your competition, and your customers? You should make every effort to learn as much as possible about your particular area of expertise. Take advantage of any training programs that your company or industry may offer.  By increasing your depth of knowledge, you will command respect from your customers, co‑workers, and competition by projecting an image of intelligence and credibility.

Breadth of knowledge deals with your ability to converse with others in fields outside of your own particular area of expertise.  Read at least one newspaper a day and a minimum of one book a month.  If you can’t find the time to read, get books on audio and listen to them in your car.  Make it a goal to learn something new each week.

When you are willing and able to talk with people about topics that are of interest and importance to them, those people will feel much more comfortable being in your presence. In fact, people will go out of their way to talk with you. By increasing your breadth of knowledge, you will increase your circle of influence with people of varying backgrounds and education.

JOINING THE FORUM = KNOWLEDGE

We have a forum which can be found at  www.assessmentforum.com which can help provide a wealth of ongoing information to you in helping with your business and your own personal life. Join-It’s FREE and start talking with others, asking questions, giving your own input and if you need Dr. Tony to answer your direct question, that will happen, too!

See you at the new Forum!

Are Your Intellectual Muscles Strong or Getting Flabby?

Don’t let your intellectual muscles get flabby!

Your intellectual image comes from how well you’ve developed what’s inside your skull. This is your intellectual self. I’m not talking about a high IQ or your ability to win at Trivial Pursuit. I’m referring to the depth and breadth of your knowledge, your mental fitness. Most of us were given plenty of basic intelligence. We alone decide whether we’ll use it to capacity or let it get flabby or stiff from disuse.

Can your mind lift abstract concepts from The Wall Street Journal, or from the professional journal in your field? Can you grasp the intricacies of a problem explained by someone in a field completely different from your own?

Can you see an issue from a perspective that’s 180-degrees from your own feelings? Can you entertain ideas that come from a different culture, or from people you don’t like? Can you hang in there when it’s going to take a lot of convincing to get people to see things your way, or when it’s going to mean clearing seven committees and the CEO?

Training your mind to take on longer-term and more demanding tasks gives you the stamina you need when mental marathons come up. Other ways to strengthen your mind might include:

– Taking some classes in a subject you’ve always wondered about — art history, acting, geology — but never studied.

– Learning to play a musical instrument. Or, if you prefer, learning to scuba dive.

– Committing to teaching yourself a new and difficult skill: celestial navigation perhaps, or gourmet cooking, or origami, or winemaking.

– Joining a foreign-affairs group, or investment club, or reading circle, where new issues and speakers abound.

– Buying an expensive subscription to a weighty series of books or musical performances. Paying so much, you’ll probably feel compelled to get your money’s worth.

– Here’s a real test of mental discipline: Listening to a daytime TV talk show without making judgments about the intelligence of the participants!

Another intellect-strengthening exercise is to get in the habit of not assigning labels to people. When you’re at a party and another guest is introduced to you as “a life-insurance salesperson,” don’t you, mentally at least, take a couple of steps backward? Ditto, perhaps, for “IRS auditor,” “debutante,” “parole officer,” or “yachtsman,” depending on your mind-set?

Thus, the hidden assumptions of language can control your behavior. Your preconceived notions of accountants, say, as bland and boring, or of professors as tweedy and reserved, probably does you and them a disservice and may prematurely kill what could be a valuable relationship.

To maximize your intellectual image, attempt to get past the labels. Don’t overlook, for instance, the opinions of a mere “clerk” while perhaps overvaluing those of a “consultant.” It takes intellectual strength to avoid the trap of confusing the specific for the general. But if you can get into the habit of appreciating people’s unique, human side and not judging them generically, you’ll win their respect — and you may learn something, too.