Inspiration | Innovation | Productivity
What is genius?
You might think that “genius” means exceptional intelligence, aptitude, or talent. But really, genius is the creative intelligence that can reason and solve problems in unique and novel situations, producing solutions which were previously in the unknown.
“Kimberly is a wise and compassionate teacher and leader. She has a unique skill-set as a spiritual visionary and pragmatic problem solver. She is a real blessing to have on your team!” - Bryan B, Startup Founder
Genius is bigger than intelligence alone.
The breakthroughs created by Nobel laureates, creative scientists, and others has been shown to be the result of a high creative intelligence, not high IQ. So where does genius come from?
In creativity research, there are three different theories about the source of genius. The first theory assumes that the power of genius is outside of ordinary conscious thought, which can be transcended through meditation, madness, drug use, fever, brain injury, shamanic trance, and the like.
The second theory assumes that genius comes from specific thinking abilities and personality characteristics, such as divergent thinking, fluid intelligence, and a creative personality.
The third theory assumes that genius is a natural extension of ordinary thinking processes when there is deep knowledge of the relevant domain. Mastery is a precursor to genius; as jazz geniuses demonstrate, only after basic skills have been mastered is the artist capable of improvisation.
Regardless of the theory you prefer, neuroscience shows that creative intelligence can be fostered with strategic training and coaching. (That’s what I do.)
Today, "Genius" doesn't mean what it used to mean.
In ancient Rome, genius was viewed as a form of power achieved by connecting to the spiritual realm. “Genius” was the Latin word for the protector spirits which were thought to accompany each person through life. These guardians were believed to be the source of extraordinary skills or talents. Socrates, for example, said that he would never do anything without consulting these spirits because they always told him which way to go.
In the 14th century the word “genius” was brought into the English language. By the 16th century, influenced by hyper-rational Western culture, the meaning of genius had shifted from “having a genius” to “being a genius” and referred specifically to intelligence, talent, or giftedness. That’s how most Westerners think of genius today.
I’ve spent enough time in the non-Western world to understand that many non-rational approaches have their own merit.
Your genius will turn you into a transformational force.
Genius is the rare level of novel and useful achievement beyond the normal range of human expression, usually focused in a specific domain (science, art, music, etc). Because it produces novel insight, genius isn’t just faster, higher, or stronger than its antecedents. Instead of simply improving existing strategies or theories, genius resolves impasses, creates new awareness, and explains phenomena that have resisted explanation.
Although we don’t really know where genius comes from, it’s clear that genius can be taught. The success of coaching as a mechanism for higher performance, whether in creative pursuits, sports, or leadership, shows that when there is an adequate foundation of biology and temperament, with the proper support an individual can become extraordinary.