Human Potential and the Relative State of Genius

In the 1988 movie Rain Man, the character Raymond Babbitt was a savant based off of real life megasavant Kim Peek. Peek had an extraordinary memory.  He had memorized thousands of books word for word, but lacked the ability to button his shirt, and scored quite low on IQ tests. As amazing as Peek was, the question still remains. Was Kim Peek, or "Raymond" a genius? 

When most us think about the word genius, we tend to think of extraordinary abilities in the world of the arts, mathematics, and memorization.  We package what we believe to be extraordinary into a combination of attributes and circumstances that are outside of what the average person is capable of doing. If you show someone a video of a 3 year old little girl playing Mozart, the first thing they do is come up with a list of reasons why they could never do that, or ways in which this little girl is different from them. This Us vs. Them thought process has created a gap between what we consider to be ordinary ability, and extraordinary ability.

In order for us to truly reach our potential, we must instead look for similarities between ourselves, and the extraordinary. I think true genius comes with passion. If a person is simply capable of adding large numbers quickly without being passionate about the beauty of mathematics, that person is not necessarily a genius. They simply compute numbers quickly. Do you consider a calculator to be a genius? If true genius involves bridging the gap between passion and extraordinary ability, then our potential link to those that do the extraordinary, or better yet, the link between where we are now, and our own extraordinary behavior lies within the realm of passion.

I believe passion is the source energy that fuels true genius. To find your passion and embrace it, is to take a quantum leap towards the unimaginable. Many people might say that the late Steve Jobs was a genius, but it wouldn't be because he scored a 200 on an intelligence quotient test. If Steve Jobs is to be remembered as a genius it will be because he bridged the gap between passion and potential. His ability to do so then yielded some of the most innovative products the world has ever seen. He managed to shake up what I like to call Human Potential Inertia. Inertia is one of the classic laws of physics defined by Isaac Newton which essentially states that an object at rest will stay at rest unless influenced by an external force. Likewise an object in motion will continue to stay in motion unless influenced by an external force. When we look at the extraordinary things that others do, and quickly think that we could never do that, we are engaging in negative potential inertia. Our belief in our potential is so low that it becomes static and untouched. Positive Potential Inertia occurs when we take the time to think about what moves us on a personal level. Those thoughts then become ideas when we continue to apply movement to them and express them to the world. Our ideas solidify when we act upon our potential to create something new, and those actions ultimately have the power to impact the world. Like inertia, this process will stay in motion unless negatively influenced by an outside force.

Negative Potential Inertia is partly responsible for our disbelief in our own potential genius. It is also responsible for our belief that the genius of others is due to innate abilities and attributes that we don't possess. We look at the extraordinary things that others do and quickly think this person must be different. This person must possess an intelligence that I don't. Well I can't do my own taxes, but I don't think my accountant possesses otherworldly intellect. She simply has learned tax codes, and has practiced doing taxes.  Likewise she could never explain to someone the idea of force coupling, or synergistic dominance because these are simply not areas in which she has applied herself.

That brings us to the idea of application. Most people have never applied themselves in the areas in which they judge extraordinary ability. In addition to this, most people have no passion in those areas by which they judge themselves. We look at the 3 year old girl playing mozart and think, I could never do that, she must be a genius. Well maybe she is, but are you passionate about playing the piano? To comparatively judge one persons genius to another's is invalid. Extraordinary artists are not all capable of producing the same type, or style of work. Legendary surrealist painter Salvador Dali might have looked at the ability of a modern day hyperrealist painter like Joongwon Charles Jeong, or Diego Fazio and marveled at the impossibilities of what they've created.

Work by Joongwon Charles Jeong

Work by Joongwon Charles Jeong

What we must do is embrace life for what it is, and that is an opportunity to collect as many things that we love as possible. These things can include people, places, feelings, and sensations, but they can also include you! If you take the time embrace who you are, and learn to love yourself unconditionally, you will bring yourself much closer to discovering your passion, and applying it in areas of your life that transcend judgement. It will be a place that brings you peace, and ultimately our ability to share peace with the world is the ultimate expression of human potential.

Chris Falcon is a Certified Personal Trainer and Youth Exercise Specialist. He is founder of Reactive Performance Enhancement Center, and creator of The Multi-Mode Method of Eating™. Chris is a motivational speaker dedicated to helping people feel their best through healthy living on all levels.