Let's Talk About Your Genius

It is time the word "genius" becomes demystified and de-rareified. We are all closer than we think to that kind of intelligence.

The word genius comes from Latin, and originally referred to a guardian spirit that watched over the birth of each person. It later came to refer to the natural qualities that made each person uniquely gifted.

Although we might find ourselves in a historical moment, rich with possibilities, in which more and more people can move towards the areas of their greatest passions, we in fact face one last obstacle in obtaining that power; one that is cultural and insidiously dangerous.

We live in a world we feel is increasingly beyond our control; that our fate is in the hands of globalized forces. The problems that we face -- economic, environmental, etc. -- cannot be solved by our individual actions. A natural response when people feel overwhelmed is to retreat, into various forms of passivity. If we don't try too much in life, if we don't limit our circle of action, we can give ourselves the illusion of "control". The less we attempt, after all, the less chances of failure. If we can make it look like we're not really responsible for our fate, or what happens to us in life, then our apparent ineffectiveness in life is more palatable.

Some of us give our passivity a positive veneer. We come to accept things that are made cheaply and quickly. The idea that we have to expend much effort to get what we want has been eroded by the proliferation of devices that do so much of the work for us, fostering the idea that we deserve all of this. That it is our inherent right to have, and to consumer, everything we want.

If we're not careful, we'll find this attitude infecting us in subtle ways. You will unconsciously lower your sites as to what you can accomplish in life. This will zap your levels of effort and discipline below the level of effectiveness. Conforming to social norms, we listen more to others than to our own, inner voice. We may choose a career path based on what peers and parents tell us, or on what seems lucrative. If you lose contact with this inner calling, you can have some success in life, but eventually your lack of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment will get the best of you. Your work becomes mechanical, monotonous, and mundane. You come to live for leisure, pleasures, and insta-gratification. You may grow frustrated and depressed, never realizing that the source of it is your alienation from your own creative potential.

Before it's too late, you have to find your way to your calling. Exploit the incredible potential of this era that we've been born into.

Knowing the critical role of desire and the emotional connection to your work, you can make the overriding passiveness of our times work in your favor, and serve to motivate you in two important ways:

  1. See your attempt to pursue your calling as necessary and positive. The world is teeming with problems, many of them are our own creations. To solve them will require a tremendous amount of effort and creativity. Relying on genetics, technology, magic, or lottery tickets, will not save us. We must create a better world, or we'll die from inaction. You are setting an example of what can be achieved by pursuing your calling in a modern world. You are contributing to the most important cause of all: the survival and prosperity of the human race in a time of apathy and stagnation.

  2. People get the mind they deserve through their actions in life. Despite the popularity of genetic explanations for our behavior, neuroscience is showing us how plastic our brains really are. Our fate is not hardwired in our skulls. Our thoughts determine our mental landscape, and we are responsible for so much of what happens to us.

Your genius is the unique combination of your. Your calling is the application of your genius to a purpose.

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