Someone I know and love, recently said to me, (and I’m paraphrasing) “I love the theory that all possibilities exist and with every choice we make, a whole new set of possibilities are created.”
This lit him up in every way. His eyes brightened, his body animated, his voice exuberant. The joy was spilling out all over and around him.
Here’s the clincher.
He then said, “It’s just too bad that we can’t control any of it.”
When he expressed this belief in his own lack of power over creating the possibilities of his life, his entire body, voice and energy… sank.
Although, if all possibilities can exist at once, then the possibility of us being able to choose which possibilities we want to experience must exist too, no?
That is the true definition of genius.
The power of the imagination to visualize the possibilities and the conviction of belief sealed with gratitude and love.
So to generate the genius life we really want, is our imagination a key player?
Check yourself, when you read that.
Is there an underlying belief that that is utterly impossible?
Make you feel defeated before the words can even sink in?
“Genius is the recovery of childhood at will.” — Arthur Rimbaud
There have been numerous studies on what makes genius. The long held thought has been that in order to be considered genius you had to have a high IQ, standard measure of brain intelligence.
However, a study done by Lewis Terman, the Stanford University psychologist who helped pioneer the IQ test, tracked more than 1,500 Californian school kids with IQs generally above 140 — a threshold he labeled as “near genius or genius” — to see how they fared in life and how they compared with other children.
After mapping their successes or lack of them, in a series of reports called, Genetic Studies of Genius, Terman and his team found that monumental intelligence, on its own, is no guarantee of monumental achievement.
Scott Barry Kaufman is scientific director of the Imagination Institute in Philadelphia. His goal is not to elucidate genius — he considers the word genius to be a societal judgment that elevates a chosen few while overlooking others — but to nurture imagination in everyone.
His work has revealed that “aha moments”, sudden flashes of clarity or solutions, arise at times when we’re not narrowly focused on the problem.
Rather, they are processed unconsciously and when the mind least expects, they leap out consciously.
Einstein and Da Vinci used both the left and right hemispheres of their brains, as did many other notable great minds.
The logical left side and the creative right side.
Rex Jung, a neuroscientist at the University of New Mexico, relies on “the dynamic interplay of neural networks operating in concert and drawing from different parts of the brain at once — both the right and left hemispheres and especially regions in the prefrontal cortex” in his studies on the creative process.
Here are 5 steps to begin generating genius in your life:
1. Questioning beliefs is something all famous geniuses do/did.
Something I’ve learned is that if a believe causes you pain in some way, an ache in your gut, a lump in your throat, it’s a good idea to question it.
“I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of human excellence is to question oneself and others.” — Socrates
So tune in to what your body is telling you and begin questioning your beliefs.
2. It’s then important to maintain an open mind.
Look at the issue with curiosity and from different points of view. Rearrange the question you’re asking yourself about the belief.
eg. “What is the meaning of life?” to “How can I make my life meaningful?”
“Those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything.” –George Bernard Shaw
Put the power back in your hands.
3. Tune in to your senses.
All of them.
Leonardo Da Vinci noted that the average person…
“looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.”
Close your eyes and just listen. Feel the air you breathe in. What happens to your body when you breathe? Feel the clothes on your skin. Don’t just look at what’s in front of you, really see it.
4. Next is to dream and visualize.
Yes, just like when you were a kid.
“I never came upon any of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” — Albert Einstein
Einstein’s great breakthroughs came from visual experiments he performed in his head before he did them in the lab. He regularly daydreamed and visualized the answers to whatever problem he was working on and then took regular breaks to play the violin and the piano.
5. Now it’s time to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
You had created a habit of thinking something, which then became your belief.
It felt comfortable.
“Life will only change when you become more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone.” –Albert Einstein
These beliefs may not have served you well, however they were part of your identity. Change can feel uncomfortable to varying degrees. We are creatures of comfort and life offers us many, however a genius never sits in comfort for too long.
This is where you can practice being open to possibilities that didn’t reveal themselves before you were locked into old beliefs.
“Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re hiding out in the comfortable zone.” — Seth Godin
The bottom line here is, we all have the capacity for genius, for greatness in some form or other, if only we’d stop denying it.
This is not a quality only for a chosen few.
It’s up to us to believe it can be for ourselves.
“All of us are potentially hero or genius — only inertia keeps us mediocre.” -F. Nietzsch(a notable German philosopher living in the late 1800s.)
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