Genius | Teen Ink


January 7, 2009
By AlanW SILVER, Ridgefield, Connecticut
AlanW SILVER, Ridgefield, Connecticut
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Genius. It is arguably the highest praise one can receive. The word “genius” connotes great intelligence, consummate talent, and remarkable ability. A genius is immaculate, someone who retains considerable respect and is completely laudable of such acclaim. But although many individuals are deserving of recognition, the use of the genius title has created problems within society.

Geniuses are outstanding, but what about the rest of us? Even though the word “genius” is defined as “achieving excellence in a specific subject”, many of us define it a different way. Too often, the average person takes “genius” to mean “flawlessness.” Perhaps this is due to media, where an increasing number of movies and shows possess unrealistically perfect protagonists. Perhaps this is because humans find comfort in believing that an infallible person exists. Whatever the reason, the belief that someone else is a genius creates an invisible wall between the believer and the genius because the believer often thinks that he or she will never become as excellent as the genius. This process lowers the self-esteem and motivation of the average person and also might raise the confidence of the so-called genius to a point of arrogance.

In the words of Thomas Edison, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.” To me, the meaning of this quote is clear. The root of success is hard work, not talent. This statement is supported by countless real-life examples, such as Bill Gates who spent half a year reading the entire almanac at his library, and Bruce Lee who trained martial arts everyday for a half a decade before spreading it to the United States. Yet when we hear stories of Bill Gates or Bruce Lee, we often contribute their successes to talent. We are so awed by these geniuses that we view them as almost a different species, and believe that it would be impossible to match their greatness. To the average person, they are humans no longer. They have become superhuman, or otherwise known as “genius.”

Most of us have heard and understand the concept that hard work ends in success. Yet why do we still instinctively like to relate a genius’ excellence to their natural talent? I believe it is because we wish to create an excuse for our own lack of success. Instead of viewing geniuses as inspirations to work harder, we incline to tell ourselves that we will never match their capabilities no matter how hard we try. We want to believe that geniuses were already predestined to be great, therefore allowing ourselves to provide an excuse for our lack of achievement.

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is merely that little “extra.” Geniuses are only a few steps ahead of regular people, and they got there by working for it. As an individual, one should stop glorying geniuses and start learning form them. In a way, geniuses are much like world records in that both should be serving as motivation. Records aren’t established to be venerated; they are created to be broken. Likewise, the purpose of a genius is not to be revered, but to act as motivation for others to become geniuses themselves.

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This article has 6 comments.

Hendog BRONZE said...
on Nov. 4 2015 at 11:59 am
Hendog BRONZE, Plaquemine, Louisiana
1 article 0 photos 3 comments
"Geniuses are outstanding, but what about the rest of us?" I agree with you on saying geniuses are outstanding, and I think everyone is a genius just in their own way.

on Nov. 1 2010 at 10:18 pm
Destinee BRONZE, Oakville, Other
3 articles 0 photos 303 comments

Favorite Quote:
Blegh. - Abraham Lincoln

You should read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Anyway, I think that genii (geniuses?) are born naturally, and that you cannot work to up your IQ. However, geniuses can often lack dedication and that can make them fall behind. So for the rest of us, hard work is the way to go. :)

Very well written.

on Mar. 6 2009 at 10:41 pm
artofthedeath PLATINUM, Dothan, Alabama
23 articles 0 photos 16 comments
Honestly, I agree. I am a very advanced learner, I guess you could way. People often say they could never do as well as me. Well, they really could if they tried harder. Way to bring a motive as old as America itself into our modern world! Fantasic motive!

Heyskys BRONZE said...
on Feb. 23 2009 at 1:09 am
Heyskys BRONZE, Charleston, South Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I am a member of my school's Science Decathalon team. When we went to competetion, the person who opened it was very interesting... "I am over joyed to be in this presence of genius." She said to us, which honestly, we have done excellently in science, so I guess you could say she was speaking the truth about being in the presence of genius.

lakesbyday said...
on Feb. 10 2009 at 2:18 am
Alan great read. Appreciate your thoughts....a great reminder to readers of all ages to go out work hard and achieve those goals.

booksrock said...
on Feb. 5 2009 at 12:35 am
i agree with you i have often done the same thing that you your self have described in your article. I do believe that they should be a motivation not a downer on all the rest of our lives. anyway good job!