As a whole, society appears to struggle when it comes to knowing how to handle and support its geniuses. We’re quick to label them (i.e. problem child, hyperactive, ADD, poor fit, non-contributor, distraction, etc.) and slow to eagerly plant them in the best soil where they can bloom and make outstanding contributions worthy of their natural talent.
Geniuses, on the other hand, often lack the maturity to recognize, harness and understand how to effectively apply their tremendous talent. Great emotional suffering can result, along with irrational and destructive behavior. And so, a chronic disconnect remains and every sphere of community life is less than what it could be due to this untapped potential.
In his book Power vs. Force, David Hawkins describes genius as “the ability to access high-energy attractor patterns…the capacity to exhaustively utilize experience.” Each of us has seen geniuses “in their zone” at close range, when someone effectively and amazingly accesses some pattern beyond the norm and delivers a high-quality performance in a manner that leaves us speechless. We do a generally good job as a culture applauding such observations.
This intense activity, Hawkins adds, is best followed by a period of “stasis” that allows for the fermentation of ideas, which leads to the crystallization of these ideas and then another round of intense activity—during which genius puts the ideas into action and produces something toward which the world marvels once again.
As society, we do a generally poor job at appreciating and valuing these times of “stasis.” We are driven to produce, not ferment or crystallize (there’s relatively few Chief Fermentation Officers at companies, except for wine producers); and often too impatient to give our geniuses enough time to deliver ideas and products that are usually far more valuable than what is dreamt up under the gun at an operational meeting dominated by extroverts.
We can text, instant message and email quick nuggets of food for thought. We can microwave quick preparations of food for physical nourishment.
There’s no technological breakthrough yet for how to operationalize genius 24/7. And in a western culture where we have a process or system for everything in the name of efficiency and bottom line, that frustrates us. So we marginalize genius at our worst, and genius often withdraws or acts out as a result.
What can we do to turn the tide?
Talent is not nearly enough to qualify someone as a genius, Hawkins cautions. “Perseverance, courage, concentration, enormous drive and absolute integrity” also are key. Those of us fortunate enough to known geniuses at close range can be intentional about coaching, developing and nurturing them to live out more of these qualities that elevate raw potential to activated potential. Yes, geniuses require more investment of our time and attention. They are worth it.
Perhaps you are one of these “frustrated geniuses” that society mismanages with such irony, humor and tragedy. Take some time to consider the qualities mentioned in the paragraph just above, and ask yourself some penetrating questions regarding whether you are doing all you can to make those qualities come alive.
Please do this. We need your contributions in this global, unsteady village, for the greatest advancements in the history of civilization rest upon the minds of the oft-unappreciated geniuses.