Genius Takes Time And Extraordinary Effort

Humans differ in brain power. Some get a biological head start, others improve over time. It cannot be stressed enough though that the optimum path towards maximum achievement is always through persistent training.

The brain is adaptable, and consistent practice can create skills that did not exist before…Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it.

You can create your own potential.

A genius brain in action will tackle a problem, quickly find an appropriate set of rules, and derive a solution.

It turns out greatness is within reach if you want it bad enough. “Your calling,” Frederick Buechner famously wrote, “is the place where your deepest joy meets the world’s deepest need.”

“The fact is, intelligence can be increased–and quite dramatically,” writes behavior-analytic psychologist Bryan Roche of the National University of Ireland in Psychology Today.

“Those who claim that IQ is fixed for life are in fact referring to our IQ test scores, which are relatively stable–not to our intelligence levels, which is constantly increasing.”

From Mozart to Bill Gates, genius’s diverse journeys toward peak performance in their respective fields shared a common trait: an unwavering dedication to their crafts and the commitment to developing their skills.

High achievements in all fields require hours of training. This refers to music, chess, sciences, sports and what not. Buckminster Fuller said, “I’m not a genius. I’m just a tremendous bundle of experience.”

David Shenk, author of “The Genius in All of Us, says anyone has the potential for genius or, at the very least, greatness. The key is to let go of the myth that giftedness is innate. “You have to want it, want it so bad you will never give up, so bad that you are ready to sacrifice time, money, sleep, friendships, even your reputation,” he writes.

When you examine closely, even the most extreme examples of history’s creative and innovative minds — Mozart, Newton, Einstein, Picasso — you find more hard-won mastery than gift.

Geniuses are made over time

It took Darwin five years to collect data during his Beagle trip to come up with a vision of the evolutionary process. Yet it took him another 20 years collecting all necessary material, and opinions before mustering the courage to publish “On the origin of species”.

The extraordinary commitment of the young Mozart, under the guidance of his father, produced one of the most prolific and influential composers of the classical era. Mozart had clocked up 3500 hours by the time he was 6 and had studied his chosen profession for 18 years before he wrote his Piano Concerto No 9 at the age of 21.

Top athletes don’t become experts at what they do by simply practicing; they get there through purposeful practice. The differences between expert performers, creatives, and normal professionals reflect a life-long persistence of deliberate, purposeful effort to improve performance.

Tiger Woods started when he was 2 years old. Serena Williams started playing at 3, Venus Williams at 4. They committed to deep, sustained immersion in purposeful practice.

Uncommon achievement requires an uncommon level of grit and a massive amount of faith even when you keep failing. You need a deeper connection to stay on the same path for years.

Anyone can achieve mastery with purposeful practice.

With considerable, specific, and sustained efforts over time, you can do most things you struggle with. You can only turn into the expert you want to become by deliberate, purposeful practice.

Deliberate practice can do miracles to your mind.

Genius requires extraordinary efforts

Geniuses, past and present are normally identified by perseverance, concentration, insane drive, and absolute focus on the one thing they do well. Dedication of an unusual degree is required to achieve mastery.

Einstein had extremely high intelligence but he genuinely loved his pursuit of Relativity. He was constantly curious and willing to consider radical new ideas. He committed a greater percentage of his productive years pursuing the theory of relatively. And it meant everything to him.

“It’s complicated explaining how genius or expertise is created and why it’s so rare,” says Anders Ericsson, the professor of psychology at Florida State University. In his new book, Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise, he says, “abilities gradually deteriorate in the absence of deliberate efforts to improve,”

“But it isn’t magic, and it isn’t born. It happens because some critical things line up so that a person of good intelligence can put in the sustained, focused effort it takes to achieve extraordinary mastery.

Hungarian photographer Brassaï once asked Picasso whether his ideas come to him “by chance or by design,” and Picasso responded: “I don’t have a clue. Ideas are simply starting points. I can rarely set them down as they come to my mind. As soon as I start to work, others well up in my pen. To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing… When I find myself facing a blank page, that’s always going through my head. What I capture in spite of myself interests me more than my own ideas.”

Mozart was immersed in a musical culture and practice from early childhood — often cited as a key factor towards his genius. Despite personal challenges, he studied hard under his father to learn the techniques of the established masters including Bach, Handel and Haydn.

He once wrote to a friend about his commitment to music and said: “People err who think my art comes easily to me. I assure you, dear friend, nobody has devoted so much time and thought to compositions as I. There is not a famous master whose music I have not industriously studied through many times.”

Nurturing and following your curiosity can help you discover meaningful work. Passion is not always obvious but curiosity can lead to amazing discoveries. Follow your curiosity and you will be amazed at where that leads you.

In “Beyond Talent”, John C. Maxwell asserts that a person’s natural abilities are overrated and frequently misunderstood. While talent is an undeniable advantage, it accomplishes nothing by itself.

If talent is not paired with the right mindset and decisions, it wastes away and eventually evaporates. Everyone has an area of giftedness — something they do exceptionally well.

However, the pivotal choices you make in life — apart from the natural talent you possess — will set you apart from the masses of people trying to skate by on talent alone.

Colvin argues in Talent is Overrated that deliberate, methodical, and sustained practice is the way to achieve true mastery.

“Deliberate practice is hard. It hurts. But it works. More of it equals better performance. Tons of it equals great performance.” Colvin writes.

The biggest difference between you and Picasso or Einstein, or the most creative minds of our time is that they embraced the long road to mastery.

They spent more time in front of a canvas, or guitar, or computer, working away at applying their minds and souls to the one thing they wanted to do. Most of what we think of as natural talent is really just the result of having started practice early.

To build genius, your learning program must be based on the high applicability of newly acquired skills and knowledge.

In short, genius develops over years of daily remolding of your neural connections. Work hard, make it smart and be patient. Stay with problems longer, and you will find your breakthrough.

by Thomas Oppong

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