“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
What does it take to be a genius?
Personally, I believe most of us have the makings of a genius within us, although we may not be aware of it. What we do and how we think have become so much a part of us, that we don’t realize that in some ways, we’re rather special. We all have talents we’ve developed to greater or lesser degrees. When it comes to business, we often lay aside our talents where they remain dormant while we take care of the business of doing business.
But it takes more than talent to make a genius. It’s knowing how to use it. Genius is a level up. Another thing we generally don’t see in ourselves. It usually takes others who can look at us more objectively and say ‘Wow, how did you do that?’ or ‘That’s really amazing,’ to get us to stop and think about it. (Mothers don’t count. They always see their kids as geniuses).
So, how do we go from merely talented, to genius?
If you think you’re not smart enough to be a genius think again. Let’s dispel the popular misconceptions about geniuses:
- They weren’t born that way
- Most don’t have extraordinarily a high IQs
- They never fail.
- They’re not all mad.
The truth is that most geniuses have average IQs, can be a genius in one particular field, or many. Some are absolutely sane while others suffer – sometimes immeasurably – from psychological issues. No one is a genius 100% genius of the time. The greatest minds – the inventors, the writers, the artists, physicists and mathematicians, fail often – just like the rest of us. Many writers like T.S. Eliot for example, inventors like Thomas Edison, physicists like Einstein and painters, like Van Gogh, failed often. (In fact, Van Gogh’s genius wasn’t recognized until after his death). But when they succeeded, their genius gifted the world.
Genius is not a matter of people do. It has everything to do with how they think. It’s a dynamic and exciting process and it’s an area where the majority of us fall short.
It’s not that we can’t. We simply don’t allow ourselves the time to be creative and expansive in our thought process. It takes a special mindset and perspective; one that’s within our capacity to grow and apply to our daily lives – and our businesses.
For example, take problem-solving. Most people rely on finding solutions that worked yesterday to solve today’s problem. How did I fix this before? A genius on the other hand looks at the problem and asks, ‘How could I look at this in a different light and if I did, how many alternative solutions could I find?’
Many of us already do this on a daily basis. We wear many hats. We make many decisions. We put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes. But we usually stop there.
Geniuses take this sort of thinking farther. Here are 7 ways you can start thinking like a genius:
- Geniuses know one different perspective is never enough. They dig deeper. Look at their issues from a variety of perspectives. In fact, they don’t give us until they’ve exhausted all the perspectives they could think of. If we use customers again as an example, ask yourself how many types of customer do you have of varying ages and demographics and how individualized their needs are. How many ways can you find to serve them? Remember, one size never fits all.
- Geniuses love to visualize. Thinking about ideas and solutions is never enough, they map it out. Draw squiggles on a napkin, create charts. Playing out each idea on paper helps solidify it, and turns on creative thinking that encourages growth, and opens up more doors, more opportunities, creates yet more ideas and helps formulate action.
- Geniuses are highly productive. Once their minds are entirely open to multiple perspectives and exploring every possibility, ideas flow quickly. Thomas Edison, for example, holds a record 1093 patents. Some authors and composers can churn out book after book, score after score. Geniuses are prolific, to say the least.
- Geniuses open themselves up to random thoughts and try to find links to put them all together and see what works and what doesn’t. In other words, they’re intuitive, curious and do not allow their minds to be restricted by self-imposed constraints. (Morse hit upon the idea of relay waves when he was trying to figure out how to get his telegraph signal broadcast coast to coast and he noticed horses being swapped out at a relay station).
- Geniuses always ask themselves, ‘What if…” Don’t be afraid of playing ‘mix and match’ with your thoughts and ideas, or latching on to something totally opposite and try to find commonalities, or links that may be applicable to you’re working on.
- Geniuses love to think metaphorically. Play it out. Break things down to the lowest common denominator. Remember Einstein’s quote: ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.’
- Geniuses always expect the unexpected. Like the rest of us, they prepare for failure, but are also curious to see if the results of the failure could turn into something new and wonderful.
Expanding our minds to possibilities opens doors and changes worlds. Even our own. Once we do, we set our inner genius free.