|Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org!
You're a genius and you don't even know it Paul MacCready is a writer and inventor who has carefully studied genius and the ways people understand that concept. MacCready has evolved several categories of what genius seems to mean, but the most important category for you is the one in which you belong - read on!
Types of geniuses are:
1) "Everyone agrees" geniuses: the great icons of civilization, including Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Shakespeare. These are geniuses elected by unanimous consent.
2) Officially designated geniuses: people who have won Nobel Prizes or other highly-respected awards. Whether or not we understand what they've accomplished, we think of them as geniuses based on their recognition by people who are supposed to know one when they see one.
3) Prodigies or savants: people who haven't yet gained national or international prominence, but who have done something so remarkable that they seem to be in a different realm from ordinary mortals. Some of these are young prodigies - students who have won national science contests or gotten perfect scores on standardized tests.
The first three are quite legitimate, but the fourth category is really the most important - because it includes you, and everyone else. It's based on the idea that we all have the potential for achievements that are wrongly considered possible for only a few.
There's plenty of evidence for everyday genius. After all, the physical and mental challenges of learning to walk and talk are more difficult than anything we face later in life - yet the vast majority of human beings meet these challenges successfully. True, it's been argued that these primary skills are hardwired into our genetic makeup. But there are many things that the genetic argument can't account for. In the 17th and 18th centuries, for example, it was expected that every member of the educated class would be able to read and speak several different languages, write poetry, play a musical instrument, and know much of the Bible by heart. These people routinely displayed abilities that today would be considered truly amazing - and perhaps even evidence of genius. But in those days what we call genius was just the fulfillment of society's expectations.
When we speak of everybody being a genius in this sense, it doesn't mean everyone has to get 800s on the SATs or play the violin or create beautiful oil paintings. Those are other ways of looking at the concept of genius, which are revealed in the origin of the word itself. A researcher by the name of Thomas Armstrong has done some excellent work on this. He points out that the word genius is closely related to the word genesis, which comes from Greek and Latin words meaning "beget", "be born", or "come into being." It's also related to the word genial, meaning "festive" or "jovial." In the Middle East, the term has been linked to the word jinni, or genie, the magical power that lay dormant and hidden in Aladdin's lamp until a secret method released it.
Combining all these roots leads to a very powerful and beautiful definition of genius. It means "giving birth to your joy." In this sense, genius is a word for an individual's hidden potential. It also includes the process of discovering that potential and transforming it into action. But the first step is belief - certainty that you have greater capabilities than you thought, and a responsibility to develop them and put them to use. So put your capabilities to use today, and join the ranks of geniuses everywhere!
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