Genius

In his podcast, Akimbo, Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

  • What is a genius? Genius is not a person, as we have been led to believe. Genius is inside all of us, and it is our job to let it out. If we get out of our genius’ way, we can share our idea.
  • As some ideas get more momentum and become wide-spread, we came to this wrong conclusion that geniuses are born, not made. We convinced ourselves that we cannot possibly be brilliant enough wield a genius act.
  • Each of us was born as who we are and then we make a choice. We make choices about what to invest in and what sacrifices to make to reach the asset we hope to attain/accumulate. The build-up of the investment/assets leads to a ratchet, where people who are already good get better. Such ratchet can lead to more momentum for the person to improve and to perfect their craft, which leads to more accumulation of the assets and higher achievement.
  • The idea of being a genius can be frightening. If we were a genius, the society expects us to take on the responsibility of solving problems. A genius is expected to raise a hand, contribute, and, quite often, fail. That ratchet of asset-utilization and momentum-building only apply to those who are in the game, step forward, and willing to be wrong.
  • We must be willing to be wrong if we want to be a genius. That is because often we do not yet know what problem needs solving. The person we see as a genius is simply playing a game in a way that we could not even imagine playing that way.
  • That means being a genius is not about genetic firepower. It is about a belief that we have something to contribute. The genius mindset gives us the resolve to persist in sharing our gift. That same mindset instills us the privilege of consistently showing up and sharing “here, I made this.”
  • If we are truly generous and believe, we will realize that, for once, we have done something original. For once, we have contributed something that someone can use or needs. For the first time, we have done something that no one has done it the same way before.
  • Genius comes down to the emotional labor we bring to the table. It is the willingness to go out to the edge, to do something that might not work, to show up even though all bets are off.
  • In the super-connected time and society, we can play a genius role. By being a genius, we get a chance to be remarkable and have our idea spread. We have a chance to ratchet it up. When this happens, we get a little bit better and perhaps more trust. That can perhaps lead to the opportunity to do it again and repeat the improvement and trust cycle.
  • Right now, we are in the right place and right time. It is the right place and the right time for everyone to be a genius. Sure, there will always be someone who is in an even better place and time than us. It is also possible that we might not get lucky the very first time and will fail plenty before making the connection that leads to success.
  • What it means to be a genius in the 21st century is to be generously persistent. It is about showing up because we care, have something to share, and want to make things better.