People often think of geniuses as unique thinkers that stand out from the crowd. Displaying exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, they are known to lead movements or discoveries.
As a society molded upon the work of geniuses such as Einstein, Jobs, Plato, and Freud, we gain inspiration from them to achieve our own creative feats. Although studies prove that geniuses and gifted people display some similar traits and have high IQs, what we forget is how much focus and hard work they put into delivering their achievements—which is something we can all choose to do!
In my early elementary school days, I was a few years ahead of my peers in Math and English and had difficulty relating to them. I therefore spent a lot of time in solitude and taught myself how to read music and play the piano. Although the academic side came naturally to me, I put in a lot of work to developing my creative talents.
Although some child prodigies who master chess, math, or musical instruments at a young age do exist, studies show that not all geniuses are born that way. Einstein was slow to speak as a child and Steve Jobs dropped out of college.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Alfred Barrious, who studied geniuses such as Edison, Socrates, Da Vinci, and Shakespeare, discovered that all had 24 personality characteristics in common—which all of us can develop at any time.
Here are some everyday genius traits and habits you can master to maximize your creative abilities and live an exceptional life.
They are independent thinkers.
Geniuses don’t see the world through the same lens as the rest of society. They are not always accepting of the way things are. They question rules and challenge authority in order to explore all sides of a situation. It was only in challenging one of Newton’s theories that Einstein stumbled upon the theory of relativity.
By looking beyond the status quo, you can discover and create beyond your wildest imagination. By acting like the rest of society, you won’t succeed or innovative past society. To achieve big, you need to think big. If greatness doesn’t already exist in an area you’re passionate about, discover it!
Steve Jobs said he never performed market research before launching the Macintosh because the public had no idea what it wanted. Now, Apple is one of the most valuable companies on the planet. Innovation requires combining problem solving with logic and creativity. When you are presented with a so-called fact, start asking why and see if you can pull apart the reasoning.
They take risks!
Vast success and growth comes from taking risks, whereas staying in your comfort zone causes you to stay stagnant. No great success or innovation came from not taking action or a risk to create something, go somewhere, or speak up. If Christopher Columbus didn’t take the risk to navigate across the Atlantic Ocean, he never would have began the colonization of the Americas.
Hone in on your values and passions to determine what is worth taking a risk for. Then use logic, reason, and creativity to evaluate the level of risk and determine how to proceed.
Part of being an independent thinker and taking risks requires you to speak up for what you truly believe in, even if it may cause some friction. The Greek philosopher Aristotle argued in his writings that the Earth was spherical, because of the circular shadow it cast on the Moon during a lunar eclipse, even when everyone believed the earth was flat.
They set high standards for themselves.
Successful people and geniuses don’t believe in just trying their best, they set deliberate goals and are determined to achieve their best, then continue to go beyond that. Average results are not acceptable! This mindset has led to some of the greatest discoveries in history, such as Isaac Newtown’s law of gravity and Alexander Bell’s invention of the telephone.
Mimicking what others around you do does not lead to innovation. Pave your own path by deciding that average is not an option. Come up with a realistic plan to achieve your exceptional goals. Combining your passions with your talents, then deciding what areas you want to excel in, enables you to achieve whatever you set your mind to.
When I first started competing in triathlons, I had a few months to train for my first Olympic-distance race. Although everyone around me said the average person does it in around 3 hours, I knew I excelled at the sport and decided I didn’t want to be average. So I calculated my pace in each leg and came up with realistic training goals to achieve a time that was appropriate and challenging for me. When race day came, I achieved my above-average time goal.
By setting high standards for yourself in different areas of your life, you really can achieve excellence and lead a life you are proud of.
They strive for perfection.
Geniuses create their own definition of perfection and don’t accept anything less than that. They take society’s definition of perfect to the next level by adding their own creative stamp to it. When others stop and are satisfied enough with what they have created, a genius will continue on to the next level. This leads to innovation and advancements beyond what has previously been achieved.
When Jobs was first working on the iPod, his idea of perfection was that that it would only take three clicks to get to any song in the iPod library. He told his engineering team, “Don’t show it to me until you can get it in three clicks.”
Create your own definition of perfection and strive to achieve it, even if the solution is not apparent in the beginning. Perfectionism is constantly evolving. Master an area in your life that is important to you and continue to grow and create updated versions of perfection.
They inspire others to also reach their greatness.
Geniuses often have teams around them to support them when achieving their feats and discoveries. Their team members believe in their vision and are inspired to bring out their own greatness to support this mission.
Job’s didn’t build all of Apple’s products alone—he had engineering and product teams that believed in and supported his vision. When employees or colleagues claimed that a task was impossible, Jobs would just stare at them and say, “Don’t be afraid. You can do it.”
The best way to teach and inspire others is by your behavior and achievements. Going after what is important to you in your life in a consistent and determined way will encourage your peers around you to do the same. Focus on reaching your greatness by directing dynamic energy and optimism towards your goals. Then, get others to believe in your vision and achieve their own greatness by communicating your ideas to them in a persuasive way.
They foster focus and drive.
Geniuses focus on one problem at a time without many distractions. Goal-driven individuals know the more intensely you concentrate your thoughts and attention and are emotionally involved with a problem or goal, the more likely it is that your mind will respond with the kind of creative ideas that you need.
To successfully foster focus, a lot of geniuses choose to spend more time in solitude than the average person. A study lead by PhD candidate Darya Zabelina showed that people who were less able to ignore distractions and had to spend more time in solitude were more likely to do great creative work. Sensitivity to noise and stimuli, so the argument goes, drives creative achievement. So don’t ignore the urge to spend time working in solitude to achieve your goals.
With their fast-thinking minds, curiosity, and desire to know, most geniuses have a lot of energy and drive. They dedicate this energy towards the projects they are passionate about achieving success in.
You are born with your own unique set of gifts and talents. You are also born with a certain amount of energy. By combining your gifts with your passions and focusing your drive and energy in this area, you can achieve phenomenal results. Try it!
They are persistent.
Geniuses and successful people don’t believe in the word impossible or that something can’t be done. In fact, they come up with creative ways to prove naysayers wrong. If you can dream it, you can create it. This attitude leaves no room for limitations, fear, or accepting failure. A lot of great success stories began with many failures. Henry Ford’s first two car businesses folded before he achieved success with the Ford Motor Company. Geniuses look at failures as ways to grow, learn, and move forward.
By continuing to work towards what you believe in and want to achieve, even if you have to pick yourself back up after falling, is what will lead to long-term success. To keep up the momentum, stay devoted to your goals and take control of your life and schedule. Start by planning something specific to accomplish each day. Remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.