January 16, 2010


Talent hits a target no one else can hit.
Genius hits a target no one else can see.
--- Albert Schopenhauer

Stand up if you're a genius.

That's not (m)any of you. At The Linchpin Session, Seth Godin asked geniuses to rise and got the same result. He was the only one standing, but that's not because he was the speaker. This was not his way of putting us down and no dunce caps were handed out. His question had a point. His explanation was like a Shawshank Redemption but without decades in prison.

An Example
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.
--- Albert Einstein

If you're not a genius, then who is?

How about Albert Einstein? You won't get many arguments by picking him. Remember the photo of him sticking his tongue sticking out? Only a genius, celebrity or boor would do that. You can stick your tongue out too. You can have messy hair (or wear a messy hair wig). That's as close as most of us can get to the E=mc2 level of genius. Luckily, there are other degrees.

What Genius Does
It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer.
--- Albert Einstein

Let's look beyond IQ and worldwide acclaim. What does a genius do? A genius solves a problem in a way no one else could. A genius gives the world something it didn't know was missing. A genius looks a problem with fresh eyes. A genius changes the rules.

Here are examples of genius in varying degrees
  • Velcro: based on burrs sticking to fur
  • Post-it notes: a use of a glue that was too weak
  • Super glue: an adhesive that was too strong
  • tooth brush and dental floss
  • preshredded cheese
  • the computer mouse and now the touchscreen
  • chocolate mixed with peanut butter (actually, chocolate mixed with anything)
  • the stapler
  • the spelling checker
  • heated car seats

Like Einstein, we can also work on problems longer. We can find help, which is much easier in today's interconnected world with a wealth of online information. We can then come up with our own solutions.

Second Chance
Are you a genius?

When Seth asked near the end of his session, the entire audience stood up. We were immodest about our brilliance, but we felt uplifted. How about you?


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