Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ever wanted to be a genius?

Super interesting article here about people who are widely considered to be above and beyond the ordinary in their fields, or "geniuses." It discusses how one reaches such an elite platform. As the article says,

The book essentially tells us to forget the notion that "genius", "talent" or any other innate qualities create the greats we call geniuses. Instead, as the American inventor Thomas Edison said, genius is 99 per cent perspiration - or, to be truer to the data, perhaps 1 per cent inspiration, 29 per cent good instruction and encouragement, and 70 per cent perspiration. Examine closely even the most extreme examples - Mozart, Newton, Einstein, Stravinsky - and you find more hard-won mastery than gift. Geniuses are made, not born.

The article goes on to explain various examples of successful people that achieve amazing things, and the common denominator is insanely hard work. Even Stephen Hawking, who is in a realm where one would assume natural intelligence trumps all, was an average student until he began to work obsessively on one topic, and devoted his time to his craft.

While this gives hope to many who wish to achieve widespread success, it comes with a certain caveat. It takes away an excuse, a barrier.

It is much less damaging to the psyche to be able to say that someone is simply more intelligent than you than to have to admit that you were simply outworked. It's easier to blame something on that you have at least no conscious control over--your genes, which control things like your IQ--than something that you at least theoretically have control over--how much effort and time you are willing to spend on a certain subject. This is a sobering thought to the many of us that likely will never be considered geniuses.