Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Defining Genius

Most people think of Einstein when they hear the word genius. But defining genius is actually based on such strict criteria that very few people can ever hope to be among those who hold the title.  

For instance, while looking for methods of defining genius, I naturally started at the beginning... with the dictionary.

According to Dictionary.com, Genius is defined as:

an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work in science, art, music, etc. 

and as:

a person having an extraordinarily high intelligence rating on a psychological test, as an IQ above 140.

 For many years, science has been noticing the parallels of the genius mind with the mentally ill mind, thereby giving us even stranger ways of defining genius.

Vincent Van Gogh certainly struggled with his own demons and even went so far as to cut off his own ear. Yet, he has left us some of the  most beautiful art in the world, and is my favorite artist.

Likewise, Edgar Allen Poe was considered mentally ill. I find this interesting because as a young student during what are now called middle school years, I found this man's writings to be the most fascinating in the world. As a parent, I introduced my children to his work when they reached the appropriate age, or when they began to study his works in school.

It appears that those who are bipolar have something going on in the brain when they are coming out of a depressive state that links them to accepting numerous thoughts - I like to call it multi-thinking.

According to Life's Little Mysteries, most people will filter out the unnecessary thoughts and focus on those things that are related to what they need at the moment, while bipolar disorder enables people to overload on information that can stimulate creativity.

It would appear to me that defining genius actually has little to do with the IQ score, unless we omit certain defining values from the term genius. Perhaps all geniuses are not meant to be creative, which is one of the values that certainly defines a genius in my way of thinking.

I wonder what people such as Thomas Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame would have been considered? Were they true geniuses?

I believe they were. It took a certain amount of insanity to continue on their paths when all around them considered them to be wasting their time. Edison had many failures before the light bulb worked. Why did he continue?

Abraham Lincoln lost more elections than he won - considerably more. Why did he continue to pursue the highest office in the land?

Colonel Sanders took his recipe to numerous restaurants before he found one - the one - who would actually give it a try. How did he know that he would eventually find that one person who would say yes?

Perhaps the true genius knows that eventually, the creative individual will succeed. The true test is not so much in an IQ score, but in one's perseverance and determination to achieve a particular outcome.

Of course, as happened in the case of Van Gogh, the fame and success came after his demise.

However, we might correctly assume that his intention was to change and bless the world with his visions of beauty on canvas.

Blessing the world with creativity is certainly one of the highest callings there can be, and in my book always qualifies one who does so as a genius.

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