We all have a general perception that geniuses are born and they grow up as brilliant minds destined to change the world. This is not completely accurate.
While research has shown most geniuses such as legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart displayed early signs of precocity at very tender age, most genius grew into genius.
Think of Albert Einstein, the universal symbol of genius who discovered the Theory of Relativity (E=MC2). Einstein’s genius completely changed the world as we know it today. However, Einstein was never born a genius. According to different accounts, Einstein as a child was slow in learning how to speak. His parents even consulted a doctor. He also had a cheeky rebelliousness toward authority, which led one headmaster to expel him and another to amuse history by saying that he would never amount to much. Some researchers even claim to detect in Einstein’s childhood a mild manifestation of autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Simon Baron-Cohen, the director of the autism research center at Cambridge University, is among those.
After graduating from the Polytechnic in Zurich, Einstein struggled to get a job. Despite several letters written by his father who was a University Professor to his friends to help his son, Einstein could not get a job even as a teaching assistant. Einstein eventually landed his first job as a clerk in the Swiss Patent Office.During his spare time, he produced four papers that upended physics. The first showed that light could be conceived as particles as well as waves. The second proved the existence of atoms and molecules. The third, the special theory of relativity, said that there was no such thing as absolute time or space. And the fourth noted an equivalence between energy and mass described by the most famous equation in all of physics, E=mc2. Einstein was 26 when he finished his first paper.
Now, you are wondering how does this relate to you. Geniuses are geniuses because they think in a certain way and they apply themselves to their environment using certain systems. Can you learn this? Absolutely. Here, I present 9 approaches used by some of the greatest thinkers who ever lived and how you can use them too. Your IQ points may not jump straight from 100 to 150, but you will certainly observe visible improvements in your cognitive ability.
Look at problems in many different ways. Find new perspectives that no one else has taken.Look at problems in many different ways.
Find new perspectives that no one else has taken (or no one else has publicized!)
Leonardo da Vinci believed that, to gain knowledge about the form of a problem, you begin by learning how to restructure it in many different ways. He felt that the first way he looked at a problem was too biased. Often, the problem itself is reconstructed and becomes a new one.
Solutions example: Finding a job or internship:
- Ask friends or colleagues for potential leads.
- Over-sell yourself: Send samples of your work or portfolio to anyone that might respond.
- Check local resources like Jobberman or search on LinkedIn.
- Broaden your target audience.What other fields could you specialize in?
Utilize diagrams and imagery to analyze your dilemma. When Einstein thought through a problem, he always found it necessary to formulate his subject in as many different ways as possible, including using diagrams. He visualized solutions, and believed that words and numbers as such did not play a significant role in his thinking process.
Genius is productive.
Thomas Edison held 1,093 patents. He guaranteed productivity by giving himself and his assistants idea quotas. In a study of 2,036 scientists throughout history, Dean Keith Simonton of the University of California at Davis found that the most respected scientists produced not only great works, but also many “bad” ones. They weren’t afraid to fail, or to produce mediocre in order to arrive at excellence. You have to be willing to be wrong to develop a genius mindset and one way to do that is to increase your failure rate.
Perhaps originality is not the key, but rather constant application of thought and tools to arrive a solutions.
Geniuses are the luckiest of mortals because what they must do is the same as what they most want to do. W. H. Auden (1907–1973) Anglo-American poet
Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience. George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1707–1788) French naturalist
Make novel combinations…
Combine and recombine ideas, images, and thoughts into different combinations no matter how incongruent or unusual. Combine, and recombine, ideas, images, and thoughts into different combinations no matter how incongruent or unusual.
The Austrian monk Grego Mendel combined mathematics and biology to create a new science of heredity. The modern science of genetics is based upon his model.
Steve jobs believed to be truly remarkable, we have to stand in the intersection. Apple was able to create revolutionary products with great aestethics because he stood in the intersection between technology and art.
Form relationships. Make connections between dissimilar subjects.
Make connections between dissimilar subjects.
Da Vinci forced a relationship between the sound of a bell and a stone hitting water. This enabled him to make the connection that sound travels in waves. Samuel Morse invented relay stations for telegraphic signals when observing relay stations for horses.
This doesn’t always apply to objects:
- form relationships with people and ask them questions!
- Get to know people in your field that can help you excel to the best of your ability.
- Write down one person that you could get in contact with, why you think this person can help, and print/post it for reference!
Think in opposites.
Don’t always stick with the obvious solutions.Get outside of your comfort zone. Physicist Niels Bohr believed that if you held opposites together, then you suspend your thought, and your mind moves to a new level. His ability to imagine light as both a particle and a wave led to his conception of the principle of complementarity. Suspending thought (logic) may allow your mind to create a new form.
“Opposites” bring two approaches to a situation but they do share a basic similarity.
Example: “right” and “left” are both directions, but which is the right choice?
The Sesame Street Muppet Elmo teaches small children the concept of opposites!
Think metaphorically. Aristotle considered metaphor a sign of genius, and believed that the individual who had the capacity to perceive resemblances between two separate areas of existence and link them together was a person of special gifts.
Metaphors are connections that are unusual or not an ordinary way of thinking:A sea of troubles; the heart of a lion; raining cats and dogs.
Similes use “like” or “as” to illustrate
The boy was as agile as a monkey. The miner’s face was like coal.
The task was as easy as ABC. Dry like a raisin in the sun.
Learning from your mistakes is one example of using failure.
Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing something else. That is the first principle of creative accident. Failure can be productive only if we do not focus on it as an unproductive result. Instead: analyze the process, its components, and how you can change them, to arrive at other results. Do not ask the question “Why have I failed?”, but rather “What have I done?”
Basketball great, Michael Jordan famously said “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”.
As strange as it seems the human brain is failure machine: it generates models of reality, acts on them, and adjusts or creates new, successful models based on failures.
From Daniel Coyle’s the Talent Code on Adam Bryant’s weekly interview: “every single CEO shares the same nugget of wisdom: the crucial importance of mistakes, failures, and setbacks… mistakes create unique conditions of high-velocity learning that cannot be matched by more stable, “successful” situations.”
Don’t confuse inspiration with ideas.
Apply your ideas with patience for the reward they may deserve. Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906) is recognized as one of the 19th century’s greatest painters, and is often called the father of modern art, an avant garde bridge between the impressionists and the cubists. During his life he only had a few exhibitions though his influence on subsequent artists was great as an innovator with shape and form. His genius, however, was not evident until late in life. He was refused admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at age 22 and his first solo exhibition was at age 56. His genius was the product of many years’ practice and experimental innovation.
Science has confirmed to us that geniuses are both born and made. Nature plays a part in how smart we become and nurture also plays a strong part. We also know of changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in behavior, environment, neural processes, thinking, and emotions – as well as to changes resulting from bodily injury. So we can improve our mental abilities and significantly improve how our brains function by reading more, practicing different forms of creative thinking and exposing ourselves to challenging mental activities. You can do it.