What Made Albert Einstein a Genius?

Skill Development Expert Profile — Albert Einstein

Image by Rob de Roy from Pixabay

Swiss patent office

‘If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking of solutions.’

After numerous rejections, Einstein eventually managed to secure a low-paying job as a patent cleric. The tasks he was set to do were very simple, which meant that he finished them easily and had plenty of time to think. It was during his time working at the patent office that he developed many of his groundbreaking theories.

1905 — Einstein’s miracle year

Einstein’s ideas profoundly changed the way we see the universe. In a single year, called his miracle year, he published four revolutionary articles.

Childlike curiosity

‘I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.’

Einstein’s breakthrough was sudden but was a result of his childlike sense of wonder and curiosity. He was always asking himself why things were as they were, much to the annoyance of his teachers. Einstein wanted to completely understand how things worked, down to their very atoms, which he later explained the existence of in one of his articles.

Question everything

‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.’

Einstein overturned the ideas held of the universe for hundreds of years. Rather than just accepting things as they were, he questioned the current knowledge in his search to understand and possibly advance it.

Challenge current thinking

‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’

Isaac Newton was the founder of modern science, and his theories were followed religiously until Einstein came along. But as Einstein tried to understand Newton’s laws, he figured they couldn’t quite explain reality as he experienced it.

Quiet life

‘How do we think well? It’s when we sit quietly, staring out the window and have blocks of time when nothing else is happening.’

Einstein’s superpower was his remarkable ability to sit still and just think about a problem. For hours, for days, even years. This monotony and solitude stimulate the creative mind, which will be much more focused on figuring out an answer, than if it has a thousand other things to worry about.

On learning

‘Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does know or is capable of knowing.’

Einstein was a pronounced critic of the current educational system and viewed it as poor at developing bright, critical minds. He felt that it rewarded those that could repeat what had already been said, rather than those who would think for themselves.

On genius

‘The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.’

Einstein believed that everyone could become a genius if they put in the work. It’s mostly about putting in the required effort to understand something. Eventually, everyone can get there.

Take home message

  • Einstein was always curious and tried to get to the bottom of how something worked.
  • He questioned current knowledge and challenged it to get closer to the ‘truth’.
  • A quiet setting is the best environment if you want to think deeply about a problem.
  • Einstein was critical of the current education system and thought it produces students who can repeat answers rather than think independently.
  • Anyone can become a genius. It’s all about putting in the necessary work and believing that it’s possible.

Learning skills — 100Hours at a time — the100hourchallenge.com

Thanks to Danny Forest

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By SkillUp Ed

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