Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cool Genius

Genius is essentially the capacity to perform at greater than four standard deviations above the mean in a worthwhile area of human endeavor. Cool people can be geniuses and geniuses can become cool. But neither is required to be the other. A cool person who is not a genius simply lacks the level of creativity that distinguishes true genius. A genius who is not cool most likely lacks the courage to endure the trial that often characterizes the path to becoming cool.

Geniuses obviously have the creativity and curiosity to set them out on the road to becoming cool. But most uncool geniuses probably balked at the price that circumstances typically demanded of them in order to remain true to their unconventional nature. In other words, the primary difference between a towering genius and a cowering genius is the heart that the latter lacks.

But it is humanity’s loss each time a genius chooses to cower rather than tower. We all miss out whenever a brilliant idea remains hidden in a mother’s basement or an unpopular girl’s notebook. So much genius is going unrealized in this increasingly complex time when we need it more than ever.

Geniuses are often made to cower in this culture because conformity today represents joining the herd in pursuit of wealth, fame and/or power. It takes a truly courageous individual to resist the pull of the conventional quest for this unholy trinity. This is especially true among geniuses who have unique abilities that sometimes give them a leg up in this pursuit.

Unfortunately, genius is no guarantee of success in amassing wealth, fame and/or power, unless that is the basis of a given individual’s genius. As such, most geniuses who chose to undertake this quixotic quest will eventually wind up cowering unappreciated on the roadside, often complaining about how unfair life is. Ironically, even those who are successful in this pursuit are often left unfulfilled. This is because, in abandoning or compromising their authentic selves in this endeavor, these geniuses rarely achieve their full potential.

What the world needs today are more cool geniuses. We require more brilliant people to eschew the pursuit of wealth, fame and/or power and instead courageously go wherever their genius takes them. We need them to focus on developing their genius to the fullest extent possible, though this may mean a more frugal, more obscure and less influential life than they might otherwise enjoy were they to apply their gifts to the pursuit of the unholy trinity. Once they maximize their potential, we need more of these cool geniuses to dedicate their brilliance to the betterment of those less gifted.

This is by no means a thankless job, though at first glance some may see it as such. In fact, it generally represents the most fulfilling life available to a genius. What could be better than being true to yourself and making your greatest possible contribution to the betterment of the world? If your answer involves something that can only be gained via wealth, fame or power, you are probably already lost to us.

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