8 steps to becoming a genius
Step 1: Accept that you need to become a genius. Look at the graph below. Where on the graph would you mark yourself if the far left represented the ignorance of a new born baby and the far right represented the genius of Leonardo Da Vince?
(Ignorance) 1–2–3–4 — (Normal) — 6–7–8–9–10 (Genius)
Okay, that was a trick. Without changing your position on the graph replace the word “Ignorance” with “Insanity,” and replace the word “Genius” with “Sane.”
The definition of the world “sane” is: “having or showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense.”
Think about a baby. Does a baby think or act with sound reason, judgment and sense? No. If an adult acted like a 1 year old he’d be locked away in a mental institute. We’re all born insane, and, our progress towards sanity doesn’t happen on its own. Sure, as we grow up our brains develop and automatically make us more capable of sanity, but we have to use that capability. In order to become truly sane you’re going to have to consciously put forth a significant amount of effort to using reason, sound judgment and common sense.
The reason this matters is because what you know and how you think define how you experience reality; your mind is your life. If you don’t consciously take responsibility for improving your ability to reason then everything about your entire life will be duller, weaker and uglier. The clearer you understand that the more motivation you’ll have for striving to fulfill your mental potential. The less you understand that the more likely you are to spend your life sitting on your couch watching mindless television to distract you from the emptiness of your reality.
Step 2: Accept that you’re capable of becoming a genius. There’s a popular misconception that you’re either born a genius or you’re not. Nobody has any proof of this. We just believe it because we’ve heard it so many times and assumed that if so many people believe it then it must have some basis in reality. Plus, it excuses us from the burden of self-improvement and lets us get back to watching television without feeling guilty about how stupid we are.
If you’re smart enough to graduate high school then you’re smart enough to become a genius. Think about this. How many song lyrics, movie characters, book titles, sports statistics, telephone numbers and street names will you memorize in your life? How many books/magazines/news articles/websites/blogs have you/will you read? When you add it all up the number is astronomical even if you score low on a traditional I.Q. test.
You’ll never reach the limits of your mind. Therefore, the limits of your mental potential are defined more by what you believe they are than what they actually are. You have the potential to become a genius if you would only allow yourself permission to become what you’re capable of becoming and dedicate yourself to pushing yourself as far as you can go.
Step 3: Accept that you’re ignorant. At first glance it seems I’m contradicting myself by saying that you’re capable of becoming a genius but you’re also ignorant. However, as you’ll soon see, this paradox makes perfect sense.
Everyone is born insane, and in order to become a genius you have to grow into it, and the more room you give yourself to grow the more you can grow. In step 1 we talked about people who give up on the game before they start, but there are many, many people who get a tiny bit of knowledge and believe they’ve reached the peak of human potential. Then they spend the rest of their lives patting themselves on the back and sticking their noses up at everyone else. Ironically, since these elitists don’t believe they need to push themselves any further they don’t. So they spend the rest of their lives stagnating on the pillar they’ve set themselves on.
Step 4: Accept that everyone else is ignorant. Humanity doesn’t have life figured out. Our entire history has been a slow process of clueless adults raising clueless children. The younger generation always takes it for granted their parents’ generation has it all figured out. So children devote their lives to mimicking their elders only to waste their lives re-enacting primitive, obsolete customs invented by pompous monkeys.
Each generation a few rebels break out of the autopilot setting their culture tries to force on them, and as a result they learn something new about the world. Then they’re likely ridiculed and possibly killed for going against the status quo, but if their new knowledge stands the test of time then in a few generations everyone will take that new knowledge for granted and mock their own ancestors for being so dim-witted while they themselves are still living their own lives on autopilot and mocking and killing the forward thinkers of their own generation.
This is the environment you were raised in as well. You’ll meet people on every street corner who will tell you they have life completely figured out. If they know anything that you don’t then they have something worth learning, but the moment you fall hook line and sinker for somebody else’s answers is the moment you stop growing and start living a subpar life.
Take everything you learn with a grain of salt. Even if someone teaches you something that’s true it’s probably still incomplete. Questioning people and their belief systems can only help you arrive at a clearer perception of the truth. Blind faith can only result in blindness.
Step 5: Develop a systematic plan to understand life. Imagine it’s Sunday afternoon, and you don’t have to go to work, but you’ve got a ton of errands and chores you need to get done. If you just wander around the house and do a chore here and there when you just happen to find yourself in a room that needs something done it’s going to take forever to get all your chores done. Imagine driving around town aimlessly and hoping you run across the store or business you need to get something done at. You’ll never accomplish all your goals.
Becoming a genius (aka growing up, aka becoming sane) is the same way. You’re not going to be able to wander through life aimlessly, casually doing the things you feel inspired or hungry to do and hope to make the most out of your mind or subsequently your life. You need a written, step by step plan (preferably framed and hanging on your mantle). Chances are you don’t have one of these, and chances are you’re not going to make the most out of your mind and subsequently your life.
Creating a systematic plan to understand life sounds like a monumental task that can only be accomplished by the greatest philosopher or prophet, but that isn’t the case. All you have to do is figure out what’s most important in life (in descending order). You can make all the excuses you want for why you can’t do that, but at the end of the day all those excuses are going to accomplish is to keep you from making the most out of your mind and subsequently your life. Who told you that you couldn’t or shouldn’t take control of your life?. At any rate, what did you think life was all about? This is it. This is what life is about. This is what you’re supposed to do. Figuring out and learning what’s important is the biggest part of growing up.
Step 6: Learn as much as you can.
How are you going to understand life if you can’t take someone else’s word for it? By learning as much as you can and reading for truth. Most people don’t give themselves enough credit for how smart they already are. Consider how much you know about movies, music, and possibly sports. You’re probably a movie trivia genius. And how did you learn so much about movies? By watching a little bit every week (probably every day) for most of your life.
Even if you’ve wasted half your life watching mindless television you still know more about the world than anyone who was born 1000 years before you. Relative to them you’re already the world’s greatest genius. You can become even more genius by consciously learning a little more about important topics every day.
Step 7: Ask the right questions.
You might be able to cram enough knowledge into your brain to win every quiz game in the world, but that doesn’t make you a genius. What separates the savants from the geniuses is meaning. Is the knowledge you possess and are the questions you ask meaningful? Do your intellectual pursuits make a difference in the world? Do they help people? Do they advance humanity? If not, then it doesn’t matter how many credentials you have or how many people pat you on the back. Your efforts are meaningless.
You don’t have to be smart enough to figure out why E=MC2 to be a genius. The world doesn’t need 7 billion astrophysicists anyway. We need geniuses from every walk of life. We need people who can solve meaningful problems in the fields that they’re suited for. Solve a meaningful question and that will be an exercise in genius, but that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels for the rest of your life. Just because you did something genius yesterday doesn’t mean you’re a genius today. And just because you performed one stroke of genius doesn’t mean that you’re a genius in every other facet of your life. In fact, nobody is a full spectrum genius. Every genius is a complete idiot in other ways.
Step 8: Question your answers. Let’s suppose you questioned your personal beliefs and the foundations of your culture and found them lacking. So you went back and rewrote the rules and applauded yourself for fixing them. Then you lived the rest of your life by those new rules and taught them to other people. The only problem is you’re Anton Lavey, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Timothy Leary or Charles Manson.
Question your answers.
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Originally published at thewisesloth.com on October 30, 2009.