There’s a conjecture I like that we were all born geniuses—Einsteins, Mozarts, and Picassos—and that somewhere along the way, many of us lost that heightened quality.
I’m not saying that we’re all duds now, nor that we all had perfect IQs back then. I’m referring to “genius” as that special spark or talent—in anything—that’s far beyond the norm we’ve come to accept. One of Webster’s definitions for genius is a person with “a peculiar, distinctive, or identifying character or spirit.”
If you have a child—or niece, or nephew, or grandchild—who is two to four years old, you know that yours is a genius; but in a way, all of them are—and, most likely, you were one, too.
Maybe your genius had something to do with art. You could see dozens of people and places in the green crayon swirl you worked so passionately to create. Or, maybe yours had to do with flowers. You spoke to them, and they spoke back and told you their troubles, and you helped them grow. Or, maybe it was about insects. You catalogued thousands of them using your own proprietary system. But somewhere along the line, you became socialized. You learned that what you were a genius at was not very relevant at all.
Imagine Miss Crabtree, gathering her kindergarten class for story time:
“Albert! Stop watching how the light moves through the window to the floor. It’s story time right now. Please, join the circle…Wolfgang, you too! Stop ringing those different sized toys against the desk to see how they sound…What’s that Pablo? Yes, that’s a very nice picture of…your mother and father? Oh, it’s just your mother…Very good, but next time, try to give her just one face.”
So, we grew up to become accountants, advisors, lawyers, managers, and consultants, going through our adult lives with a feeling that we’ve forgotten something. And, of course, we have. We’ve forgotten that we were geniuses—or even what we were geniuses at.
Once in awhile, though, there’s a glimmer of recognition—and somewhere deep inside, we do remember. Oddly enough, instead of embracing whatever it was that made us geniuses, we push it out of our minds. We’re afraid that allowing it in, at this point, will somehow disrupt our lives.
The next time you feel that spark, though, do something wonderful—and unusual—for yourself. When that flash of recognition is triggered, take some small step toward embracing your childlike genius. Buy that telescope, or that guitar, or those oil paints, and play with them. Maybe you won’t be an Einstein or a Mozart or a Picasso, but you might find some joy and fulfillment that you’ve been missing.