BY SEAN PATRICK
“You see, genius is a path, not a gift. Studies of history’s greatest geniuses have shown that there is a 'genius code,' if you will. A combination of very specific traits that we can develop in ourselves, and thus, operate at a genius level.”
This book is based on research from a variety of sources and proposes that genius is not some mystical, elusive trait, but a combination of many personality characteristics. Genius is not innate; it is a goal that can be achieved by developing separate traits or behaviors to create the “genius code.” Becoming a genius certainly isn't easy, but it is achievable.
The concepts are the results of attempts to discover the common traits of “geniuses” from all walks of life, throughout history. Initial research attempts provided few results and did not identify common genius traits. This lack of common ground among the likes of Edison, DaVinci, Socrates and even Ted Williams, uncovered the notion that genius may actually be an extensive combination of skills, traits, and behaviors.
“Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered—either by themselves or by others.” — Mark Twain
In the end, over two dozen traits were identified as separate elements of what came to be known as the “genius code.” While many of these traits are based on specific attitudes and approaches, the more important ones are all about taking action, persevering, and honing skills through repetition and practice. It turns out that becoming a genius is as much about hard work as it is about thoughts and habits.
It's a common thread in the self-help and motivational publications that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery or genius. This widely-accepted concept illustrates the often unseen efforts that are behind becoming a genius. The willingness to invest large amounts of time and the ability to persevere are requisites for the development of skills needed to achieve a genius state.
“Swing batter, swing!”
Drive, courage, devotion to goals, enthusiasm, optimism, dynamic energy, patience, adaptability, and imagination are all key traits within the “genius code” and traits that Ted Williams developed to become a “genius” in the game of baseball. Williams is considered to be one of the most gifted hitters of all time. He has been described as having almost inhuman natural abilities like eagle-like vision, extraordinary hand-eye coordination, and uncanny instincts. While most people would revel in this sort of praise, Williams was actually offended by these accolades. He knew that his success was a combination of developing the above traits and a lot of hard work over a long period of time. He called such stories “a lot of bull.”
“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” — Thomas Edison
Williams began his journey to greatness at the age of seven when he chose to dedicate his life to one singular task: hitting a baseball perfectly. Williams spent every free minute he had at San Diego’s old North Park field hitting balls, every day, year after year. His childhood friends recall seeing him on that field smashing balls with the outer shells completely beaten off, using a splintered bat, held by blistered, bleeding hands. He would give his lunch money to other kids to shag his balls so he could hit as many as possible every day. When the field lights turned off, he would go home and swing a rolled-up newspaper in the mirror until he went to bed. This obsession continued throughout Williams’ entire professional career, and the results are no surprise.
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” — Biz Stone
The 24 Characteristics of Geniuses
From Mozart to Bill Gates, genius's diverse journeys toward excellence in their respective fields shared a common denominator: the accumulation of thousand hours of unwavering “exercise” of their crafts and the commitment to developing the “genius code.”
Here are the characteristics that make up the “genius code.” While many of these traits and habits may seem like common sense or simply familiar jargon, it's important to remember two things:
- It's the combination of multiple strengths or characteristics and how they play off one another that is the key to achieving genius status.
- All of these individual traits can be learned, practiced, and mastered.
- DRIVE. Geniuses are driven to work long and hard. They're willing to give all they've got by focusing on their future success.
- COURAGE. It takes courage to try something different or commit to a singular goal.
- DEVOTION TO GOALS. Geniuses know what they want, and they go after it. Day after day, they keep the focus on the prize.
- KNOWLEDGE. Developing a love of learning and making it a constant in daily life opens doors and creates insights.
- HONESTY. Geniuses are honest with others and with themselves. They take responsibility for their success and their mistakes.
- OPTIMISM. Developing the habit of looking at the good instead of the bad helps geniuses take those necessary “leaps of faith.”
- ABILITY TO JUDGE. A genius evaluates objectively and approaches obstacles and opportunities with an open mind.
- ENTHUSIASM. Constant attention to keeping themselves “up” is the hallmark of geniuses. They understand how enthusiasm builds upon itself.
- WILLINGNESS TO TAKE CHANCES. Geniuses can learn to take chances by learning to master their fears. They learn from mistakes to minimize the risks of future endeavors.
- DYNAMIC ENERGY. Success and genius won't come knocking. It takes action and energy to go out and find them. Keep the mind and the body sharp and healthy.
- ENTERPRISE. Geniuses seek out opportunities in unlikely places. They learn to know a good idea when they see it.
- PERSUASION. Geniuses know how to motivate people and turn them into resources.
- OUTGOINGNESS. Developing the willingness to interact with others helps geniuses discover different points of view that can be invaluable for their journey.
- ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE. Geniuses can effectively get their ideas across and thrive on feedback.
- PATIENCE. Becoming a genius takes time and requires the patience to put in the work.
- PERCEPTION. Geniuses learn to create clarity in their understanding of people, ideas, and concepts.
- PERFECTIONISM. Striving for perfection is a worthy endeavor. But geniuses know how to keep that perfectionism in check to keep it from holding them back.
- SENSE OF HUMOR. Geniuses don't take themselves too seriously. They know that humor can often dilute stressful situations and setbacks.
- VERSATILITY. A genius looks for variety and different ways of thinking. They know that there are many ways to reach a goal.
- ADAPTABILITY. Being flexible keeps geniuses ready for opportunities and open to new ideas.
- CURIOSITY. Geniuses develop the hunger for learning and the desire to understand how things work.
- INDIVIDUALISM. At some point along their journey, all geniuses must veer away from the ideas of the masses and learn to trust themselves.
- IDEALISM. Geniuses aren't afraid of the impossible. They know that many great successes began with a seemingly impossible dream.
- IMAGINATION. Geniuses know how to see things from different viewpoints and understand the power of asking: “What if...”