Let your inner genius take flight

We can’t all be as inspired as Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers and Steve Jobs, because they were geniuses, and we’re not; isn’t that the case? Well, maybe; but perhaps it’s not quite so clear-cut. Think about it for a minute; none of them had an idea over breakfast resulting in a fully-functioning product by lunchtime. Their genius resulted from something else entirely; a gift you already have, if you choose to use it…

The world doesn’t have enough geniuses. If it did, together we would have had millions of ‘light-bulb moments’ that cured the common cold, halted climate change, and kept the traffic lights green as we approached.

What we do have are electric light bulbs, aircraft that can fly us just about anywhere in the world, and more desire for Apple products than we could have imagined 20 years ago.
There’s no co-incidence that the things in the previous paragraph tie in neatly with the names we included in the first one. They’re not the result of genius, but of evolution based on belief in a good idea and persistence in its pursuit by those individuals.

Sticking to it is the genius
And that’s what genius is about. It’s about never giving up on what might seem impossible. Jobs created the love for his products because they were people-friendly in use; the Wright Brothers tinkered about with bits of wood and fabric to give us powered flight, and Edison (whose most famous light bulb moment was about the light bulb) once said that he had failed his way to success by refusing to give up. He’s the one who said: “Sticking to it is the genius.”

successful-business-stories-300x200That’s an ability we all have; to make suggestions and build on ideas of others; to say: “I know, what if…”

And asking ‘what if’ leads us to development, with development leading to reality. It took the Wrights 25 years to get from being given a rudimentary toy helicopter to making their historic 120-foot flight on December 17th 1903. Thousands of other smart people had personal own ‘what if’ moments to build on the Wrights’ invention during the last century, others have done the budgeting and made successful businesses out of it. Does their achievement of things the Wright Brothers could never have imagined take away from that first flight? Of course not. It adds to the sum of human knowledge in a way that casts a glow of genius on anyone who has firstly had a ‘what if’ moment and carried on to make something.

Persistence is omnipotent
There’s a comment by America’s 30th President Calvin Coolidge that sums it all up. He said this, often incorrectly attributed to Ray Croc, who grew McDonalds into an international business: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

An intelligent idea from one individual is just the kernel of something new. Only when we keep adding to it the influence of those ‘what if’ moments, which can be done by any of us, do we arrive at an invention that works; that steps from ‘moment of inspiration’ to ‘buy it online’. Together, therefore, we can make a difference. Collectively, we have genius.

Picture: The Wright Brother’s first flight. NASA via Flickr | no known copyright restrictions.