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Creativity – The First Cousin to Genius


What exactly is the difference between the mind of a genius and the mind of an ordinary person? Michael Michalko, in his book Cracking Creativity, says he thinks the difference is that geniuses know “how” to think, instead of “what” to think. This enables them to create completely new concepts and say to themselves that anything is possible.

That simply means that they look at problems differently. They combine ideas, images, and thoughts in a different way and are able to recognize patterns in the world around them. They know how to make connections between objects, no matter how unusual or disparate. An example of this is when Leonardo DaVinci made the connection between the tone of a bell and a flat stone hitting the water, causing waves. His connection was that sound also traveled in waves.

Another sign of genius is the ability to think in opposites. An example of this type of thought would be the Danish physicist Niel Bohr. In 1928, he announced that it was possible to imagine light as both waves and particles, not however simultaneously.

The ability to think in metaphors is considered a sign of genius. Aristotle felt that if a person has the ability to compare two separate areas of existence and somehow find a relationship there, then that person has a special gift.

A person of exceptional abilities also focuses on how to analyze the process of accidental creativity. It’s not a matter of why it failed, but what exactly did it do?

A person possessing genius is highly productive. An example of this was Thomas Edison, who held over 1,000 patents. In his book Cracking Creativity, Michael Michalko states that geniuses produce large quantities of ideas because they think fluently. Apparently, their minds are extremely busy; they think all the time. And it’s possible for the rest of us to develop these attributes as well. It’s simply a matter of training our brains to think more fluently.

According to Buckminster Fuller, “Everyone is born a genius. Society degeniuses them.” Some believe that genius just appears, out of the blue, and that the conditioned thinking of higher education can actually detract from a person’s genius.  Massive amounts of knowledge doesn’t necessarily guarantee genius; it only means you have an excellent memory. And the good news is that you need not be a genius in order to be creative. And even better news is that we are capable of more than just creative thought; we are capable of more genius than we ever dreamed. Charles Baudelaire described genius as “no more than childhood recaptured at will.”

So, how do you accomplish this feat? You must retrain your brain to think like a genius. You can do that by following the above criteria. You must start to think about the world around you differently. Think in opposites, think in metaphors, and become more productive with your thoughts. And when ideas don’t exactly pan out the way you hoped they would, you must ask yourself not why it failed, but what did it accomplish, what did it prove?

Want to develop the mind of an inventor? Start looking at designs around you and ask yourself how you could make them different. Max Planck, known as the father of quantum theory, believed that it was necessary for scientists to have “a vivid intuitive imagination, for new ideas are not generated by deduction, but by artistically creative imagination.” Even Einstein said his theories were “free invention of the imagination.” Ezra Pound said, “Genius…is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one and where the man of talent sees two or three, plus the ability to register that multiple perception in the material of his art.”
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