“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are”
– Joseph Campbell
When you hear the word genius, what – or whom – do you think of? Albert Einstein? Stephen Hawking? Marie Curie?
In today’s society, these names, and a few others, have become synonymous with the term. We accept it as a way of describing someone with exceptional talent or intelligence; an individual whose faculties reach far beyond the norm.
Would it surprise you then, to hear me tell you that you are a genius? Perhaps it would, but nevertheless: that’s what you are. We all are.
The Genius Inside You
The word genius comes from the Latin root gigno: to beget, to bring forth. Here’s how Webster’s dictionary defines “genius”:
2. The peculiar structure of mind with which each individual is endowed by nature; that disposition or aptitude of mind which is peculiar to each man, and which qualifies him for certain kinds of action or special success in any pursuit; special taste, inclination, or disposition; as, a genius for history, for poetry, or painting.
By that definition, you are – absolutely, categorically, you don’t stand a chance of convincing me otherwise – a genius. You are a person who looks at a thing and sees something entirely differently from everyone else in the world.
How do I know this? Take a look around – even though many people in the world look similar, no two people look exactly the same – even identical twins look different. So, if no two faces are alike, you can be sure that no two brains are alike, either. And certainly, no two people’s experiences of life are precisely the same. Even if you and your friends like the same things, you can guarantee that you like them for very individual reasons. If you say you like the same qualities in a thing (“I love apples, because they’re sweet and juicy and crunchy”; ”Oh, so do I!”) your experiences of the aspects that you love so much (“sweetness”, “juiciness” and “crunchiness”) are entirely unique to you. This has to be, because there’s no one else like you on the planet.
Your precise combination of vision, ability, experience and interest combine to create a personal expression that’s so individual, if you built a life around it, you’d find it impossible to do anything other than create a life that’s as unique and fresh and wonderful as you are.
I’m not just flattering you, because you’re not alone in that sense. In fact, every child ever born sees the world in a new way. Everyone is born a genius, because everyone has their own original vision.
Why Your Genius Went Missing
That’s fine in theory, of course, but there’s a problem: even if I’ve convinced you that you were born a genius, you’re probably thinking “I don’t feel like one now. What the hell happened?”
Don’t worry – you can’t lose your genius. However, you can lose the awareness of it – and most of us do, for a very simple reason: life happens. When the happy halcyon days of toddlerhood are over (toddlers are obviously geniuses - just notice the amazed look in their eyes as they gaze out at the world!) we head off to school to learn how to make our way, and that means learning to conform.
A main aim of the school system is to make us all very much the same – to knock us into the same shape. It has to be that way, because society requires it. Society has specific roles it needs filled, and anyway, there aren’t enough teachers to cope with a bunch of geniuses in a classroom with brains firing off in a million different directions all at once!
Some people are lucky, and they hit upon their own personal genius in the course of their schooldays (or even earlier). Maybe they discover that they have a great talent for maths, a gift for chemistry, or a love of French. But if you have a genius for something a bit less obvious – like making music out of found objects and junk, or studying the history of hallucinogenic plants, or breeding huskies – it may be a bit harder to locate. Yet find it you must, because you – like everyone – are designed to do something (maybe many things), and until you find that thing and do it, you’ll feel unsettled and as though something is missing from your life.
Finding Your Lost Genius
Luckily, nature has a marvellous and foolproof way of letting you know what it made you for: it makes you love the things it wants you to do. Nature wants you to eat, so you enjoy eating. It wants you to stay flexible, so you enjoy stretching your muscles. It wants you to procreate, so you enjoy…well, you get the picture.
Putting it another way: what you love is what you have a genius for. Your delights are like your own in-built set of instructions. They say: this way up.
Sadly, few of us spend our lives doing what we love. Why? There are many reasons, and they can be very powerful indeed: doubt; distractions; indecision; a lack of time, information, or support; other commitments; and most of all, fear. Actually, every obstacle you’ll ever face is based on fear, and the good news is that there are ways round each and every one of those obstacles, even those that seem insurmountable. More good news: you never need to positive-think yourself past the barriers in your way (unless that happens to work for you); you just have to be prepared to delve into them, look them straight in the eye, understand what they are telling you about yourself, and then use what you’ve learned to work round them, or to consider alternative ways of doing what you love.
All of that is entirely possible, and the rewards are tremendous. You have a thwarted genius to rescue! Ready to get started?
Take a look at:
*How to build support from the inside out;
*How to get going, even when you’re not 100% sure of where you’re headed;
“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love - that is the soul of genius.”
– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
© Brian Cormack Carr, 2010
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