If you ever thought geniuses are born and not made then this insightful ‘how to become a genius’ guide is for you. What genius really means in a changing world.
In this comprehensive guide, we discover what it really means to be a genius, why most of us don’t think like a genius, why some of us think something is genius when it isn’t, as well as how to find our genius within through unearthing effective habits that help bring out our creative and innovative thinking and problem-solving potential each day, and how to become a genius in tomorrow’s adaptable and everchanging world (and why we need to!).
If you are ready then let’s dive in as unearthing the genius within us isn’t possible unless we try to heighten our current level of understanding and knowledge each day, and address what is holding us back.
Table of Contents
What It Really Means To Be A Genius
When we envision an image of someone we consider genius most of us will bring up an image of Albert Einstein, or someone with ‘exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability’.
We may assume someone like that is just a one in a billion, and that there’s no way we could possibly think on the same level. Well, as we will see it’s those types of blocks and doubts that can freeze our mind into conventional ‘average’ thinking, but it also takes a lot more than just ‘thinking’ we are smart to become so.
There is a genius within all of us, but it’s often locked away deep inside, and only a few consistently search deep enough to bring our genius within out. The reason most of us don’t think like a genius is because we have lost our ability to explore the potential of our mind from a young age, we’ve become conditioned to conventions and environmental constraints, and we also have become ingrained to associate genius with a crystalised form of intellectual capacity rather than a fluid intelligence that exists with (which is our real secret weapon to expand our brains capacity – see the importance of fluid intelligence).
For many years we assumed through limited understanding that geniuses were born, not made, that we were either creative or we weren’t when the reality is often more down to how we have been conditioned, particularly in our capacity and openness (or closedness) to explore autonomy.
For example, there’s a reason why those who travel or live in different changing surroundings find their creativity heightens, as it breaks us out of the usual restricting thought patterns. Go away for a while and come back to your previous environment and you can’t help but see it differently, to question things you just took for granted before you left.
Well, unearthing our genius works in the same way. We have to challenge our conventions, and we have to get a little uncomfortable doing so too. We have to stretch our current understanding or assumption to the limit of our capacity, again and again. We have to do this a lot too, as that’s how our mind starts to find new dimensions of understanding and creative output, and the more we do this the better we get at it.
Why Most Of Us Don’t Think Like A Genius
The reason most of us aren’t genius, or living at our genius capacity or flow most of the time, is because we simply don’t push this side of our brain enough, and instead, we stay with the safe and old part of our brain that seeks repetition and ease, seeks approval and validation, and does what it can to avoid questioning our ingrained assumptions.
Yet, we all have probably had an ‘aha’ moment from time to time. Those moments when a genius idea or solution came our way, only for it to disappear as soon as it arrived. Why did that aha moment come? Usually, it’s when we fight societal expectations less. When we aren’t even trying to come up with an idea, and certainly when we stop trying to impress others or seek a form of validation. Seeking validation or virtue-signaling only stifles our creativity.
To really be a genius we have to learn how to feed into our fluid intellectual capacity, an inward thinking process, and then match that with a world of external inspired stimulus. We have to see what is needed, understand, and seek problems. We have to avoid jumping on bandwagons of popular thought and go in our own direction to unearth our own original thinking, and sometimes disagreeable nature.
You see a trait of a genius is to not become so dependent on the opinions of others. This doesn’t mean they don’t care what others think of their work or output, they are often sensitive creative souls, but it’s more a case of they won’t give up on their own independent thought because the majority follow a popular trend or because others don’t see what they see.
Following along leads to more agreeableness (naturally) but it also leads to following far more daily conventions. e.g. driving to a gym to pay money for something we could creatively do better for free.
A trait of those who are intimidated by intelligence is often to try and bring others down, to make them feel smller, to tell them their ideas are no good etc., even if they doesn’t have any ideas of their own, to make themselves feel better about their averageness. It’s those who have never written a book themselves, for example, who are first to dismay the effort in someone writing one. It’s easier to be a critic rather than to create and innovate, and it’s another reason why many don’t pursue their creative potential within. It’s also easier to make a quick buck than it is to consider whether something really benefits or improves something and so we have too many not really pushing their potential.
When We Cheapen The Word Genius
We hear the word genius a lot.
So, how do we go about finding our genous within?
Well, we have a find your genius challenge just for that, but before actively doing that you can consider these 5-steps to take towards freeing your mind towards its genius potential.
1) Throw Away The Current Baggage Of Thought
Let’s assume there’s a lot of baggage to deal with. We might not think we have baggage, or that we have dealt with it and are happy or content in life, but for us to truly find our genius we don’t do so by just hoping or believing it to be there. This is not pop psychology or simplistic mindfulness. I doubt Einstein sat in a zen room to find his inner genius. In fact, his lab was extremely messy.
It’s safer to assume we have lots of baggage underneath. It will help us unravel where our genius truly lies, at our core.
Throughout this guide, it might help to think about our ‘genius’ core (which we all have) like a ‘designer onion’.
What is a designer onion?
It’s where we peel back the current layers of influence we have in our life and strip them away in order to free our mind to think clearer and find our core values again, deep within, our lost child within if you like. Then that child gets to play again, freely, and instead of having the world around them shape them they get to shape themselves in the way they want to be designed, and thus create their own ‘designer onion’.
Simply put, there’s too many rotten onions in our world, and most of the time it’s not our fault they went off. The good news is that we can recover our core and start again, and it will eliminate the rotten smell in the process, but first, we have to concentrate on peeling back those layers.
Now to truly peel back all of our layers can take someone years of counseling, practice, and persistence to get completely rid of.
Let’s assume you don’t want to take years. Let’s assume you want to find your inner genius faster than that. In today’s fast-paced world that is more often accurate.
Why all these assumptions. It’s not about judging but it’s a step in itself to freeing our mind from overthinking in the wrong areas. When we think we have our life made or have a fixed idea of what we know is right about life then we box ourselves into that thinking and the biases that follow.
So, the first thing we need to do is break those biases. While that is a whole program in itself (see Richly’s highly-acclaimed Time To Adapt program for help in this), one thing we can do to speed up the process of finding our inner genius is to create a platform where we can explore without boundaries.
4 Powerful Ways To Reduce Baggage Today
So, let’s start with some simple tips and techniques to help you make step one’s baggage-reducing easier.
CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT DAILY
Being stuck in the same environment is a surefire way to think stale. Do the same routine enough and you might be fine being a big fish in a small pond of your current environment, but you certainly will struggle to move beyond that comfort zone.
To become a genius you can guarantee that those who are don’t let their minds settle on fixed ideas or fixed environments. They know that with change comes opportunity and learning, which are essential towards building up your ability to think beyond.
As for clearing up baggage, then getting out of your set environment gives you space to clear your mind and dust off the cobwebs that gather (or rotten layers of onion that stop you from finding you core and then creating your own designer onion from within).
The solution isn’t to say go and travel the world, although it certainly can help. The solution is simply to take a different street to work, change up the routine, and find different hobbies to get involved in. Become too attached and those possessions end up owning you.
DEAL WITH DISTRACTIONS
Distractions are a pain of modern life. if you live in a city and you are surrounded by them, yet if you move to the countryside for some peace then no doubt you have a barking dog from a farm not far away.
Sure headphones help, but the difficulty of distractions is a bit like needing the toilet. Once the seal is broken it’s gone. It can take long enough to get focused and then once you do all it takes it one particularly load noise that takes your focus away and you can find it hard to get back into focus, as suddenly you are now more sensitive to other noises around you.
Yet, dealing with distractions is very important if you want a clear mind. Too many distractions around doesn’t just mean noises, it means influences too.
There’s a reason many writers choose to work in wooden cabins in the middle of nowhere. It’s not just the noises. It’s so they can instill their own thoughts without the influence or bias of the culture or environment around them.
The good thing is this point can be paired with the first one. You can change your daily environment and deal with distractions at the same time.
DROP STUFF YOU DON’T NEED
Baggage means belongings. When something belongs to you it has a weight around you, sometimes a burden. When we note that Einstein had a messy work environment this isn’t the same as baggage that gets in the way.
This kind of mess is the stimulus that helps trigger connections from different stimuli to one another. It’s why looking through old photos triggers memories and new ideas at the same time, and it’s a great creative technique (as noted later).
The kind of baggage that weighs you down is the fears, distracting influence, noise, irrelevant and just general mess around you.
You can take part in the ‘less is more’ challenge and see the power in letting things go, especially in today’s digital world. When you do you free up a lot more space to think for yourself rather than buy into what media is pushing your way.
STOP THINKING LOGICALLY (& EMOTIONALLY)
If the other 3 suggestions were easy, this one is the hard one.
To stop thinking logically sounds like saying stop thinking, as thinking is to make logic out of stimulus, but that is not what a genius does, at least not at first. The first step is to refuse logic, to stop allowing yourself to fall to biased conclusions.
This gathers the most baggage as when we think too logically we become so much more likely to adopt set ways and fall into the same routines that stop us from thinking originally or differently to other people.
So if we aren’t thinking logically how are we meant to think? Emotionally? Well no, not that either.
To substitute logic with emotion can lead to just as much, or even more baggage, as thinking logically.
We end up making decisions based on feelings that might lead us towards a path we are not in control of at all, or where our emotions get the better of us. It’s like going to a casino with no control. Not a good idea. Tilt here we come.
Having too much emotion attached to your decisions also ends up seeing you follow trends and ways to fit in to feel more accepted rather than to truly think for yourself.
So, if you aren’t meant to think logically or emotionally, then what on earth are you meant to think like?
This is the real secret of how to become a genius. It’s something geniuses do, and probably without even thinking it. Instead of allowing logic to try to make sense of a situation, and instead of allowing emotions to dictate their decision, they do something else entirely.
They seek to create a solution that isn’t so obvious. The reason it isn’t obvious is because logic only understands something once it has facts to gather, and before facts it can’t gather much, so it’s confused.
It’s why you see people who really struggle to make sense of something without facts or stats to back something up. Geniuses they are not, as they lack this one key attribute in the ability to see, to have vision and conquer up new solutions.
So, does this mean that any artist is a genius. Well, no.
There’s a key ingredient that separates the Jobs and Musks from those who also have creative expression, and it’s the ability to adapt and create together.
Once we learn to unlock that many of us can become genius.
You see, most of us have vision, we have foresight, we just don’t know how to unlock it. A good help in clearing the way is to clear up our overly logical or emotional baggage but to really build our visionary potential we need AQ.
2) Build AQ, Not IQ or EQ
We get transfixed on the idea that genius comes from IQ and IQ only. Yet, those who are truly genius don’t always have the highest IQ’s but they are able to do something that others can’t.
Too many people have become ingrained to think that deliberate practice and mastering a craft will be all towards becoming a genius at something. These people are likely lacking in their own AQ to realize that IQ and persistence alone aren’t enough. They certainly help, but they aren’t the key attributes.
So, what is AQ? You can learn a lot more about what AQ is and how it helps you here, but simply put, your AQ (Adaptibility Quotient) is your ability to adapt to and thrive in an environment of change.
In terms of how to become a genius, then you NEED this, almost more than IQ and EQ.
Yes, Einstein had exceptionally high IQ, and it certainly can help, but contrary to popular belief, your IQ isn’t really what will make you a true genius, at least it won’t in the near future.
Maybe we need to redefine what we mean by genius, and moving forward into our future world, there will be many AI robots capable of doing tasks that even those with the highest IQ won’t be able to do, and therefore the term genius changes somewhat, and it becomes our ability to think beyond what AI can do for us.
So, you simply have to be adaptable with a high AQ if you want to know how to be a genius today. The good news is, unlike IQ which becomes fairly fixed and crystalized with age, AQ can be developed, at any age.
It’s not just about being motivated or commited to something. This is a pretty washed-out modern viewpoint that people accept as fact because it’s regurgitated so much. That’s the problem with today’s social media fueled world, we end up taking popularity over competence, trend over seeking what is actually right for us.
All this does is add baggage to our onion, and leads to more work in peeling it off and getting to our genius core.
So, the second step to finding your genius is to start thinking differently today, about what preconceptions you have. In some ways this is an extension of Step 1’s throwing away your current baggage of thought, but in order to build up your AQ you have to adopt a different approach to how you currently look at something.
The problem with the deliberate practice approach is it itself becomes ingrained and repeated practice before long. You have to keep things changing, so the thinking that you just stick at your craft until you excel is actually quite old thinking, derived from the times not-so-long-ago where status-driven ‘orange thinking’ ruled everything (see Understanding How Spiral Dynamics Can Change Your Life to learn more).
This is not to say deliberate practice isn’t useful, it certainly is, but you need to mix it up with completely different and seemingly unrelated forms of practice, which helps you build your adaptability.
For example, instead of spending hours on hours learning to play songs on a piano you can practice closing your eyes and picking out different sounds in a park (for developing your ear for when playing piano later), or try dexterity techniques to build up the elasticity of your fingers. You don’t even have to be near a piano to learn how to improve at it.
If you think of successful athletes, races aren’t won on the track, they are won in training, and part of that training can be visualization techniques to see the race happen before it does so they can adapt to something that might change in the race and be prepared for it.
IQ again won’t help you here. You can spend hours on hours trying to teach yourself to learn in theory, but often what happens is your brain shuts down at certain points because it either lacks stimulus to keep it engaged, or you just burnout as you don’t really know how else to approach the same hurdle.
It’s the equivalent of Edison deciding to go back to the drawing board with the same idea that didn’t work and persisting without thinking differently.
What it leads to is ingrained routines but not adaptable progress. It’s like someone becoming amazing at one song on the piano, because they practiced it over and over, but then having no clue how to take that into another song or create their own. The best musicians are the creative ones who can adapt, as adaption and creativity go hand-in-hand.
We can arguably blame school for such linear ways of thinking. We are taught that hard work and routines pay off. They do in routine jobs that don’t require any flexibility, but those jobs that traditionally required IQ are only going to become less and less common as AI is built to deal with routine tasks.
Therefore, if you don’t adapt you will essentially fall behind in tomorrow’s world (more on that in Step 4).
One thing to note first is that genius is NOT a principle. It’s not simply repeating these steps and ‘hey-presto, I’m a genius’. This is why cheapening the stature of finding your inner genius should not be tolerated. When we put it down to simply following logical steps we make it seem like it’s something that is so easy to do, but being adaptable is a skill that can take a lot of time to uncover. You don’t just read about it and suddenly you can do it.
This is arguably what separates those who really do find their genius and those who are just pretenders. If you think it’s found in logical steps then you are certainly one who is determined more by your IQ than your AQ and that is the second thing to change.
The steps outlined in this guide are there to help you along your discovery of your own lost genius, rather than a rule book you must follow logically to do so. It would be best served for you to adapt the guide to your own circumstances and environment for it to be of more benefit to you, as after all, adapting is key.
3) Find A State Of Flow (It Doesn’t Have To Be Comfortable)
Lots of the advice you hear today is how you need to find a comfortable place in order to find your inner-zen, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that bringing out your genius works in the same way.
Actually, our best ideas come out when we have to adapt to the unknown, not settle in the comfortable familiar. We see things that we need when we need them, not when we are too comfortable.
A major problem with a lot of the advice you hear today about finding your flow is that it often comes with this assumption that you have to be comfortable whilst within it. If we look a little deeper though we find the opposite to be true.
We don’t push ourselves to a new limit if we are content with where we are. Think about exercise for a moment. You may struggle to motivate yourself to start a challenging run, but once you have done it your body feels better for it, and if you can get your mind to a point where you just keep pushing yourself despite the pain then you are in a state of flow. Flow is when the world around you disappears and your focus is purely on that moment, and that doesn’t always have to be comfortable, but it is progress.
Our comfortable modern world leads many to instant gratification (one of The 15 Greatest Social Challenges Of Our Modern Times). It’s too easy for us to lay in comfort and just buy what we need at the press of a button, with it here the next day.
Even work environments today ensure their workers are pampered to the max. This is not conductive to pushing ourselves to improvement, as it’s too easy to stay within the confines of comfort. When you are brought up in this environment then it’s no wonder you become prone to seeking instant gratification.
Flow is not found within this area though. It is found through delayed gratification. It’s where the resulting experiences of pushing ourselves past our limits give us a sense of accomplishment.
It can feel even better after we achieve something we’ve earned rather than with instant gratification, but because the journey to finding it is generally harder then we often simply give up before the reward is gained, and only remember the pain of trying but failing.
It becomes far easier to seek instant gratification, but we simply don’t grow from something that is so easy to obtain.
It’s this modern tidbit obsession that has led to the notion that things like finding our inner creative genius are as simple as reading an article and then it’s done. It’s why you find people scrolling for hours for information but spending very little time on the process of implementing it. Today’s world is too busy with all the information to put it to good use and therefore delayed gratification isn’t sought enough.
Patience is a virtue but a virtue than isn’t patient these days.
So, this explains why people might think they are genius when they aren’t, or why they may band the word around like hot cakes labeling everything as genius from a better than average song to a technical assistant working at Apple.
So, how do you bring out your creative flow?
You can start by getting yourself to resist instant gratification, and to keep going at something when it starts getting hard. It’s like training a muscle, your most effective gains are the last two reps when the strain is there.
However, it’s not just about working hard. The reason you need to learn to adapt to different environments and situations first is because you will ultimately be seeking your comfort zone as soon as something gets hard, so you need to adapt your mind against quitting at this point.
This isn’t to say you have to always be uncomfortable in order to find your flow. There are also some useful methods that you can utilize in bringing out your flow easier, so long as you still persist when the hard part, and real growth, occurs.
4) Envision A Different Future
Tomorrows world is a very different one to the one we know today.
As technology as developed over the past century we have seen monumental shifts in how we interact and live, and this is only going to continue at a faster rate into the future.
Therefore, learning to envision the future is a skill which adaptable people possess and which puts them in an advantageous position.
If you consider the great visionaries of our time like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, you might think they are one-off geniuses who can see things other can’t, and while they may have indeed been fortunate to help an ideal blend of surroundings in their upbringing to bring out that creative vision (or more to the point, not have it suppressed), they certainly aren’t the only people who can envision a different, and better, future world.
So, why else should you try to envision tomorrows changing world?
When you attempt to create something that doesn’t exist yet you give birth to the opportunity for your mind to create beyond what it already knows.
This is effective learning.
Too often we seek to learn from history or facts that have been and gone. This certainly is useful in formulating knowledge that teaches us not to run across a road without looking for cars etc. Experience does save our life, but it also can stop us from visualizing a better one.
Humans are curious creatures, but also creatures of comfort. It’s that battle between the two that stops some very smart people from realizing their genius potential.
Society prefers worker bees. It prefers stability over the unknown. It merits systematic doers and followers over rebels with ideas. So, it doesn’t surprise that comfort tends to win over curiosity, or indeed that popularity (the ability to fit in to a social structure) triumphs over competence in today’s world.
However, tomorrows world is different, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for those who merit curiosity over comfort. The popularity era of today (where we think life is about obtaining status, ease and even virtue signaling) will hit a point where it’s not enough to just be perceived as being popular, and instead the ability to learn and adapt quickly to changing conditions will become the key skill that is most desired.
It already is fast becoming a key sought after skill in the workplace, but there are far too many people locked up in thinking they have to build their IQ (or EQ these days) and just show how popular or relevant they are, rather than their ability to truly solve problems. It leads to a wealth of protest marchers who then have little idea what to do next.
The world needs more adaptable people but in order to bring that wave about we need to first learn to drop our egos that bury us in the notion that all that matters in life is the notion of becoming well known, respected due to status, or safe.
When we consider what is needed to actually learn and adapt to something new, it’s our curiosity to consistently improve that prevails, and not our platform that we hide behind.
The thing is, many of us have the ability within us to think differently and to find our inner genius. We just become trapped to today’s popularity first thinking. Move beyond that and we are free to expand our minds to new horizons. (It’s why today’s celebrity culture is hindering humanity, not helping it).
Learning how to become creative and innovative in our thinking is part of Richly’s ‘The Creative Eye’ and ‘The Future Us’ training programs, but getting into a habit of thinking differently, nurturing curiosity, and seeking to solve problems and add value are good starting points.
When we try to envision a different future we are building up our highest level of thinking, our ability to create something new, and this helps accelerate learning as we don’t just copy what is already common knowledge, we seek beyond this and focus on learning about what is to emerge.
It’s being ahead of the game. It really is a game changer.
5 Simple Ways To Start Thinking Creatively & Originally
Here are 5 effective habits that help bring out our creative and innovative thinking potential each day.
Give Yourself Whitespace
One of the best things you can do each day to bring out your creative juices and make sense out of confusion is to simply take a shower. Why? A shower provides the perfect environment for not only cleansing off daily baggage but also to also ideas and thoughts to collectively group and make sense out of each other, which is whitespacing.
The result is often you have even more ideas after you’ve allowed you head to drift off in the shower. It’s a bit like meditation but focuses more of active accumulation and formation of ideas, which is a geniuses best friend.
Pick Up A Creative Hobby
Creativity seems to come in two forms. Artistic creativity and creative ingenuity. Whilst most geniouses possess the latter (or both), artistic creativity is also important.
When we are expressing ourselves creatively we release endorphins that make us feel good and we activate our potential to be productive rather than passive. This just might spark your ability to find your inner genius.
Become A Problem-Solving Genius Everyday
A genius is undoubtedly a problem solver at heart. If they didn’t seek out problems to solve then they would just be content with the way things are and wouldn’t fuel their minds to think of creative solutions.
Other than being adaptable this is arguably the most important trait of a true genius. They spot problems as opportunities, and even if they aren’t entrepreneurial, they see problems as an excuse for their curiosity to go into overdrive to figure out why something works.
Sometimes this can be from reading and researching, but a real genius takes learning to a new level by creating their own solutions to problems.
It’s a great technique to get you into the flow of thinking deeper.
To become a problem solving genius, you have to look around for problems to solve. What can you see around your current environment? What product, service, or interaction could be improved and how?
For those really wanting to get to grips with this, as many companies need to these days, and even more so in the future, then you can join ‘The Future Us’ training program.
Look Into Memories Then Surrounding Stimulus. Repeat.
When we look back we aren’t stopping ourselves from moving forward, we are opening the possibilities to attach the past with the future.
A really useful technique to boost your creative powers is to always seek out different stimuli. Your past is full of memories that can act as a trigger towards newer ideas. Delving into your past memories also helps with gratitude of what you have learned in the time since and where you are today.
Find Diverse Connections
It would be wrong to think that you can find your inner genius all alone, as we need stimulus around us to find it, and there’s no better stimulus than the interactions with other people, especially if those interactions are diverse.
It’s important to note that connections need to be made actively rather than through passive dormant thinking that just leads to the emotional following of trends that isn’t good for you (step 1).
When we connect with a diverse range of people we walk into a plethora of creative inspiration from all the different backgrounds and ways of thinking that we wouldn’t envision had we stayed in the same environment (step 1)
5) Change Again (& How To Become A Genius Overnight)
We should know by now that being a genius isn’t something you are just born with, but something which can be refined, but to do so you have to keep your mind sharp and keep adapting to new and emerging ideas.
No genius just did the same as everybody else, yet most people feel the need to copy and gain validation from everybody else.
That’s really what separates a genius and someone who isn’t there yet. They simply think for themselves and allow themselves to explore their world between their ears. Others may read something like this and want it to be backed up by evidence or quotes and so forth, but all that does is reaffirm the follower mentality.
Of course, we can all learn from each other, and inspire each other, but to truly be a genius you really have to start thinking for yourself.
The moment you fall into a pattern of passive thinking the less you have the ability to think originally. Therefore, the final step creates a loop back to the first step.
We have to challenge our thinking and bias again. Once we become comfortable in something that was originally a challenge it no longer promotes original thinking. Instead, we fall into habitual patterns and autopilot mode.
So we have to ensure rotten layers aren’t building again and to peel them off when we can. When in the habit of change then we can enter our flow states much easier without restriction or doubt, and this gives us more time in the kind of state that starts building more genius and original thoughts.
But what about becoming a genius tomorrow?
Well, of course, it’s not so easy to change your habits so suddenly, but the moment you choose to actively change the way to go about things and become actively involved in the decisions you make then you already start the change.
Daily productive activities such as meditating or drawing can help bring your mind to more creative states, but to bring yourself to genius levels you have to really stretch your thinking beyond what you are comfortable with and beyond what is conventionally already known, so adopting the steps above consistently help bring your mind to the level of consciousness that helps you find your inner genius.
Admittedly, it might not be by tomorrow, but if you adopt the mindset that you CAN be genius each day then tomorrow will come sooner than you think.
Richly Wills is all about helping us find that creative vision lost within us again so we can adapt to our surroundings and get more out of ourselves. Search more insightful articles and actionables within Richly.