Debunking The Myth of Genius

Jul 29


Judy Widener

Judy Widener

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Until recently, IQ tests were considered the Holy Grail for predicting career success. But the traditional definition of intelligence is just too narrow to reflect all of the ways we think, learn and express our talents and skills. It’s inaccurate to state that mastering science is more valuable than social skills. So for IQ to be relevant today, it must give equal weight to all types of mental qualities.

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In the broadest sense, genius is simply an unusually high degree of insight and mastery in any area.


While genius can correlate to classroom intelligence, it’s not restricted only to artistic or musical prodigies and the rare brainiac who scores high in math or science.


For instance, you could possess an unusually high degree of insight and mastery in social, kinesthetic or linguistic pursuits.


This view opens up a whole new universe of ways to express genius. The combination of spatial and kinesthetic intelligence can produce star athletes in basketball, pool, skiing and other arenas.


Geniuses in using written or verbal language can excel as authors and public speakers. Also, the whole world benefits from those who have a special connection with the environment.


And we all know someone who excels in picking up subtle communication cues, like microgestures and vocal intonation. They possess unique skills that facilitate relationships, so we call them street wise, sensitive, or intuitive.


These social geniuses enjoy thriving careers and stable families, using their uncanny self-awareness and ability to appreciate the uniqueness of others. In romance, they listen well and have a talent for balancing honesty with respect for their mate’s feelings.


And businesses are recognizing the value of employees who possess self-control, confidence, and empathy for others on their team.


In an office setting, if you can rock a spreadsheet, you could be an Excel genius. Your boss might team you up with a genius in reading gestures, then take you to a meeting with upper management.


As you seek your area of genius, recall the times from kindergarten to college that you enjoyed learning. It was easy. It was fun. You were good at it. And remember the times others remarked about an exceptional ability you possess.


Your brand of genius could relate to:


• The natural talents you’re aware of

• The subjects were the easiest to learn and/or the most enjoyable at school

• What other people tell you that you’re good at

• What you enjoy doing more than anything else

• Where you are doing it might be more important than what you’re doing (e.g., you might prefer outdoor activities like sports, farming, forestry, travel, etc).



Your Singular Sensationalness


The concept of genius is woefully misunderstood, and we’re living with the consequences. The most limiting myth of our time is that there’s something magical—or rare—about inspired genius.


In fact, we all have passion, and passion inspires genius in everyone, all the time. Albert Einstein once said that everyone is a genius. I agree.


An individual form of genius resides in each and every one of us, waiting to be expressed. Teachers, parents, business leaders and researchers are beginning to recognize that everyday genius is the greatest untapped resource of our society.


True fulfillment comes from sharing whatever flavor of genius you possess, in whatever way is meaningful to you.


But most people go through their whole lives never knowing the unbridled joy of pursuing their passion and expressing their genius.


No matter what your circumstances, you have opportunities to share your knowledge, your talent, and your caring. When you’re doing whatever you love to do, your life and everyone else’s life is enriched.


Whether a chef, a stay-home parent, an accountant or a world leader, passion is the common denominator that exalts ordinary work to the level of joyous fulfillment. Everyday genius is a form of passion that has a special intangible quality, the x-factor that takes work to a higher level.


With genius engaged, work doesn’t feel like work. It’s not hard or forced—the ideas and their implementation seem to just flow. There’s an easiness, a naturalness that makes work more enjoyable.   


Because passion-inspired genius creates everything that’s worthwhile and enduring.


I’ve seen it over and over: when someone has passion, they find whatever support they need—information, finances, even friendship—to create the optimal environment for expressing their genius.


I have witnessed these “coincidences” so many thousands of times, I’ve come to believe that there’s no such thing as happenstance. Only outcomes based on your beliefs about what’s possible.


Passion gives you the energy to follow through on the opportunities to pursue your genius. When you’re open to every possibility, you’re looking for them, and you’re jumping all over them when you see them.



Leveraging Your Genius Through Talents


A lever multiplies the mechanical force, or effort that can be applied to another object. Common examples of levers are a crowbar, a seesaw and a wheelbarrow.


Another term for lever is mechanical advantage. If you’ve ever used a crowbar to change a tire or a wheelbarrow to move dirt in a garden, you can appreciate the advantage of leverage. 


Your intelligence is a form of power, a tool you can use consciously to create meaning in your life. So when you apply the concept of leverage to your personal power, passion is the lever that multiples the advantage of the intelligent force you apply.


In other words, passion gives your genius the leverage to create the best life you can imagine with the least amount of effort.


Passion is boundless, endless, and infinitely powerful. Your passion will guide you to express your genius in a way that is meaningful to you.


One of the tools of passion is your individual group of talents.


You possess natural talents based on how your brain is wired. Since brains can be wired in an infinite variety of ways, you have a specific group of things you have a talent for, and all the rest are non-talents.


Researchers have identified more than 100 behaviors that reveal how your talents play out in your daily activities. Look at how you think, how you make decisions, and how you implement them.


These behaviors will indicate if you have a talent for strategic thinking, conceptual thinking, organization, taking initiative, embracing challenges, social intelligence, etc.


For example, if you can’t figure out how to get your life organized, you don’t have a natural talent for it. Classes and planners won’t produce the organization you seek; they’ll only leave you feeling frustrated.


So don’t waste your time on tools that are designed for people who have an organizing talent they want to strengthen.


Instead, partner with an organizer, delegate the task to someone else, or pay someone to do it for you. The point is to choose a strategy that doesn’t rely on you doing something you’re not talented at.



Debunking The Myth Of Weaknesses


Your deepest fulfillment in life stems from the passionate expression of your talents. But keep in mind that you might not have passion for all of your talents.


For instance, I have a talent for bookkeeping, but I don’t enjoy it. I use the talent to manage my personal finances, but I’m not making a career of it.


So your greatest power comes from building your life around the talents you have passion for, and finding work-arounds for the non-talents and non-passionate talents.


It’s through your choice of how you use your talents that you create your experience of strengths and weaknesses. I’m going to pause here to explode yet another myth (you know how I love to do this!).


You don’t have strengths and weaknesses. You create them by whether and how you use your talents and non-talents.


Here’s how it plays out with talents:


• You create a strength when you rely on a talent

• You create a weakness when you don’t leverage a talent


Likewise, here’s how it plays out with non-talents:


• You create a strength when you avoid using a non-talent

• You create a weakness when you rely on a non-talent


For instance, I have a talent for organizing. I get a huge kick out of cleaning out a closet, getting rid of stuff I don’t need any more, and tidying up the rest.


I use this same talent to organize my business priorities. But if I don’t take a moment at the beginning of the day to use my talent, I’ll get distracted. I’ll spend the day on a project that’s fun, but not the most important thing. In the process, I’ll miss a deadline and end up feeling frustrated. 


In contrast, earlier we explored strategies that avoid reliance on a non-talent for organizing: you could hire an organizer or delegate the task to someone else.


The point is, when you know what your non-talents are and find a way to render them irrelevant, you’ll never have another weakness. Wouldn’t that be a great feeling? Your confidence and sense of fulfillment will soar.



What The World Needs Now


The more kinds of intelligences you discover inside yourself, the better your life can be. So I don’t want to leave this conversation about genius without touching on what I believe is the highest form of intelligence: love.


The ability to care for and appreciate yourself is the strongest predictor of true happiness and fulfillment. Although it’s not taught in school, love is a type of intelligence that can be cultivated lifelong.


And the payoff touches every part of your life. When you learn to love yourself in a highly intelligent way:


• Your confidence will grow

• Your ability to trust yourself will grow

• You’ll deepen your self-knowledge

• You’ll be more willing to learn

• You’ll tap into your innate creativity more

• You’ll enjoy your life more fully

• You’ll be more understanding and compassionate toward yourself.


But the bennies don’t stop with yourself. When you love, accept and appreciate yourself, it’s human nature to want to extend that experience to your relationship with others.


So let’s explode yet another myth of self-improvement: that personal development leads to selfish, narcissistic navel-gazing. In all my years of coaching, I’ve seen the exact opposite.


Love removes the obstacles to loving others more deeply and fully. Self-love imbues you with confidence, which dispels fears about intimacy with others. When you’re secure in who you are, you’ll naturally want to share the fun.


In fact, you’ll be able to love others in a similar highly intelligent way as you love yourself. Let’s apply this idea to the list above:


• Your confidence in others will grow

• Your ability to trust others will grow

• You’ll deepen your knowledge of others

• You’ll be more willing to learn about others

• You’ll encourage others to express their innate creativity more

• You’ll enjoy your life with others more fully

• You’ll be more understanding and compassionate toward others.


In what ways are you raising your love intelligence quotient?