Emulating Einstein: Can you learn to become a genius?

Are you waking in the middle of the night with pangs of underachievement, sweats of mediocrity, and feelings of self doubt? If the answer is yes then we have a solution. Set the bar a little higher and become a bona fide genius. All it takes is a little practice, patience and perseverance. Read on for the simple three step plan to become a genius.

But what is a genius? The word has been applied to many of history’s greatest minds: Beethoven, Da Vinci, Socrates, Einstein, and even footballers Pelé and Lionel Messi. However the secret behind their success is simply down to hard work and the correct application.

messi-celebratesThree simple steps is all that is needed: work on your talents, develop them ,and put them  into action. Combine all of these, and no matter what, you will succeed at anything. Some may even call you a genius.

Start the clock – the countdown to genius

Just ask Malcolm Gladwell. In his book, Outliers, he insists that genius goes beyond “being smart” or having a high IQ. It comes with practice.

Given the boot from his first job as a journalist at the American Spectator, 10 years later, he finally established himself in his profession. “I was a basket case in the beginning, and I felt like an expert at the end,” he said. “It took 10 years – exactly that long.”

Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule suggests that putting in 10,000 hours of practice into a pursuit – 20 hours a week for 10 years will be rewarded with success. Break that down and that amounts to three hours per day of putting the work in to become a master of your craft.

Gladwell notes that even the greatest minds throughout history didn’t produce their best work until they were older. As an example, Herman Melville wrote “Moby Dick” at the age of 32.

It also worked for Virgin Boss Richard Branson – an underachiever academically at Stowe school who suffered from dyslexia. However since the age of 16 when he launched Student magazine, Branson hasn’t let himself be beaten, launching and expanding his Virgin empire, showing an unparalleled work ethic.

richard-branson“Richard Branson was dyslexic,” says psychologist Dr. Peter Congdon. “They say the six of the most successful businessmen in this country are all dyslexic, and have problems with mechanical reading and spelling, but they have great motivation.

“Genius may often be associated with high IQ, but a person with a high IQ is just someone with high levels of intelligence. They arrant the all-talented superstars we love to look up to.

“The genius is usually one with high intelligence who has great motivation, industry, steel, drive. I’m always explaining to parents that a lot of people have high intelligence but they won;t necessarily get anywhere because they’ve got no motivation,” Congdon recollects.

“Edison persevered and persevered and persevered. And some people said he was stupid, but he got there in the end. And that is what you call genius. It’s motivation, steel and drive.”

Mozart could have wasted his talent

Ruth Coppard, child psychologist at help Me Help My Child agrees – saying that even composer, Mozart would not have received such recognition had he not put in the necessary legwork.

“There’s a lot of work saying Mozart was a genius because he put in the sort of work a 20 year old would,” Coppard said.

“You need the personality that will enable you to sit down and put that effort in. Lots of people have certain personality characteristics – you can’t do much about them. If you’re a wimp, you’re going to be a wimp. You might be a braver wimp if people help you. But you’re not going to say ‘yahoo let me go up Mount Everest’ spontaneously.

Putting the right activities in place during education to release one’s creative juices is especially important.

“If you introduce the right kind of techniques to people you can get them to think in different ways that are more original,” psychologist, Kamljit Birdi senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Sheffield says.

“They can come up with more ideas. Everyone can be made to be more creative with the help of learning different types of creative thinking techniques.”

There is no magic formula. You don’t have to be “born clever” to make the grade. Even the greatest businessmen, inventors, musicians and sportsmen weren’t all graced with natural so-called intellect.

“There is very good evidence that IQs vary greatly particularly among males, and this is most likely genetic,” said Lewis Wolpert, Emeritus Professor of anatomy and developmental biology at University College London.

Motivation beyond perfection

Even Newton and Mozart honed their crafts beyond the point of perfection. They aren’t known as geniuses because they were special. They became so because they possessed that unique drive to accomplish greatness.

“The Newtons and the Mozarts will have a really strong drive, nobody has to tell them what to do. There’s this hunger to do things and not being satisfied with what they’ve got,” Birdi said.

Psychologist Coppard insists that special talents will naturally rise to the top, but these individuals must possess the right character to mobilise their unique gifts.

“You can train children to think more creatively. But some will be and some won’t be. You get the one-offs who can do so much more,” Coppard says.

So with a little drive, motivation and perseverance, we can all join this alumni. No more nightmares of unfulfilled potential, self-doubting or sleepless nights. We all have genius somewhere inside all of us. All it takes is a little practice.

Photo credit: Hardo Müller