Everyone wants to be great. Everyone is capable of being a genius. The questions are of course, how can you become either, or better yet, both? I am on the path to each and will try to explain how I know this and why.
When I was a little kid I knew greatness first from the way my parents behaved. They seemed to have the answer for everything and could help me when I needed it. Then I began to suspect that my grandparents and relatives were great as well, mostly for the same reasons as my parents. I also believed that they were all super smart, I would have said they were all geniuses because of what they knew, how they behaved, and what they showed me. As most kids I slowly lost a little of this awe over time until I was just like most teenagers: I liked to walk twenty-thirty feet in front of my parents wherever we went as though to show in some way that–“I’m not with these people.” Wasn’t it Mark Twain who declared something along the lines of: “I was surprised to learn how much my parents seemed to learn when I turned 25?”
I next confused heroes with both greatness and genius. I considered various athletes as remarkable. I was a fan of the undefeated Miami Dolphins and the Oakland A’s who were also winning World Series. To me each star was fantastic. After sports fanaticism in my life I began to eye various teachers as providing me with glimpses of both becoming a genius and role-models of greatness. I looked harder and further than I thought I a person should have to look though and in many ways I become disenchanted with the quest, even belief in greatness and geniuses.
Recently I’ve decided I was confusing perfection with greatness. And genius with being perfect as well. I have discovered creativity instead and the value of time. I have learned all this by being a book publisher and an author. If I didn’t care about words and didn’t care about creativity I would never be who I am. It turns out that I am a genius at generosity for authors. I know this sounds a bit full of myself, but I do think it’s true. I am the best at who I am capable of being as an author. My primary skill is creativity and I do this with a certain amount of greatness. I have come to these realizations slowly and persistently over time. I absolutely couldn’t have said this to you twenty years ago, I would have been arrogant to say this in fact.
Let me explain more and wrap this small rant up. You see, I don’t confuse being great or a genius with some “ideal” way, or with fame and riches. I believe that being able to recognize what you are best meant to do is taking advantage of your own greatness and makes you a genius. It’s all a lot more simple than I thought decades ago. To paraphrase a talk I heard by Tara Brach recently: “Humans make the mistake of thinking they have a 1000 serious things to do before they can rest.” If we can recognize and go with what we do best we can be at our greatest. Being who we are alone makes us great. This requires a flow with life, not a battle of wishes and wants and serious expectations.