Finding Genius in a Hall of Mirrors

Image credit: Wikipedia

What do you think of when you hear the word “genius?”

You may see, as I have, visions of exceptional people and their incredible talents: the scientific genius of Einstein, the musical genius of Mozart, or the artistic genius of Leonardo daVinci {art was just one of the many genius talents of this ultimate Renaissance man}.

Curious about the origins of the word, I found that “genius” is a Latin word meaning the “attendant spirit present from one’s birth, innate ability or inclination.”

Wikipedia says that in ancient Rome, the genius was seen as the guiding spirit or “tutelary deity” of a person, family or place.

In that same Wikipedia article, something further down the page caught my attention: “Persons with genius tend to have strong intuitions about their domains, and they build on these insights with tremendous energy.”

It then quotes Carl Rogers, the founder of the “humanistic approach to psychology”:

El Greco, for example, must have realized as he looked at some of his early work, that ‘good artists do not paint like that.’ But somehow he trusted his own experiencing of life, the process of himself, sufficiently that he could go on expressing his own unique perceptions. It was as though he could say, ‘Good artists don’t paint like this, but I paint like this.’ Or to move to another field, Ernest Hemingway was surely aware that “good writers do not write like this.” But fortunately he moved toward being Hemingway, being himself, rather than toward someone else’s conception of a good writer.

What did these genii have in common? They somehow found a way to break free of the tightly formed box of conventional wisdom surrounding them and dared to do things their own way.

They listened to the whispers of intuition ~ that voice of God, the nudges of encouragement from their Future Selves. They came to know, love and respect their innate abilities and inclinations. And then they boldly and defiantly dared to express those unique talents in the world.

Do you know the most important thing that I noticed? The word “rare” is completely absent from the definition of genius.

So many of us have come to see individuals who live in their Genius Zone as different than us, as one-in-a-million recipients of special gifts and talents that we could not even begin to dream of possessing.

And here’s the beautifully paradoxical truth in that perspective: it is both true and so far from the truth at the same time.

Those people are different from us. They do possess unique gifts and talents. And . . . so . . . do . . . you.

Every single snowflake that has ever fallen and will ever fall from the sky is unique in its design. How many snowflakes do you guess have ever fallen and will ever fall?

Your fingerprint is unlike any fingerprint of any other person who has ever or will ever inhabit this planet. {The population today is estimated at 7 billion people.}

Pause for just one moment to let this sink in.

Are you beginning to see what has been right here in front of you, with you, inside of you . . . since the moment you were created?

And here’s one more a-ha that hit me as I was writing this post. . . .

Something zinged when I saw the word genii as the plural of genius. Does that word remind you of anything?

I’m thinking it’s time to let the genii out of the bottle. . . . What do you think?

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Originally published at on April 14, 2015.