Throughout our life, we have met people who seem to have more intelligence than the rest of us. We term these people brilliant, smart or address them as genius. We may assume that their intelligence is God’s gift to them. Perhaps you are one of these gifted souls yourself. Then there are others who find it hard to concentrate and perform well academically, struggle with assigned jobs, to learn new things, and perhaps wish that they were more like those geniuses.
A competitive society places a lot of importance on intelligence. Intelligent people are considered valuable everywhere. People who display lower levels of intelligence fear the consequences of not being able to keep up with the peers in their respective fields. When our children perform well academically, we proudly rejoice and share their performance with everyone around us. On the other hand, when the child is struggling academically, it causes much anxiety and worry to parents.
Do you struggle academically and in your career? Do you consider yourself dull and wished that your were smarter? Or do you just wish to do better at the tasks that you take up? The good news is that you are already a genius, just that you may or may not know it. Even top performers use only a small percentage of their brains, and it follows that each one of us has a potential within us to be a genius. It is a myth that geniuses are born that way. In reality, geniuses are the ones who have developed their inner capabilities more than others.
If you believe that your intelligence is static and cannot be enhanced, consider this. The performance of students who are otherwise brilliant suffer greatly after experiencing some traumatic event in their lives. The same students are not able to learn and retain like they used to. Sometimes, the drop in academic performance is so drastic, that a top student might get failing grades in school after experiencing the trauma, until the situation is correct by therapy. The same is true with adults as well. This suggests that clearly there is something more to performance besides raw intelligence and genetics.
Why is it that some people perform higher than others?
The following observation from geography helps to understand this better. In the Indian subcontinent, many rivers originate in the Himalayas. Most of these rivers break up into smaller distributaries, until they get either land locked or dried up by the sun. The rivers that break up into smaller streams and distributaries never reach the ocean. On the other hand, the river Ganges, which also starts in the Himalayas, continues to flow steadfastly south east without breaking up, and is able to pour its waters into the Bay of Bengal. The fact that the Ganges flows without dividing herself is the dominant reason for her to be able to reach the ocean.
The path of the river ganges.
Such is the case with the intelligence of the human mind. People who are able to focus their thoughts on a particular subject with undivided attention appear to be more intelligent than others. In reality the same potential exists in the rest of us as well. Genius is less about the faculty of intelligence itself, and more about the ability to concentrate on a specific task without getting distracted.
As swami Vivekananda said:
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced.”
Now the question is, why is it that some people are able to give undivided attention to what they take up, whereas some others are not able to?
There are two reasons for this:
- A high goal that greatly inspires and motivates the individual
- A mind that is free from distraction
Let us take this up this up one by one:
1) A high goal that greatly inspires and motivates the individual
Until and unless an individual selects a task that greatly inspires and motivates him, his full potential does not get unleashed. This is why it is extremely important to “follow your heart”. Selecting a field of work only because of the need to survive ensures that an individual forever remains only in survival mode. All of the potential of such a person remain dormant.
Mahatma Gandhi was a mediocre student in school. He was a shy, soft-spoken individual who had no great spark of intelligence or leadership in him. All that changed when he suffered discrimination in Africa due to the color of his skin. He took upon himself the goal to correct the injustices that he faced. Highly inspired and motivated with this goal, this once shy man of mediocre abilities underwent a tremendous transformation. He grew by leaps and bounds, fought diligently and untiringly towards the goal of freedom for the entire nation, and in the process introduced some of the most brilliant and powerful ideas known to fight injustice in a peaceful manner. His leadership was par excellence. No one remembers the shy mediocre student, all of us know him as a highly powerful and revered political leader who we lovingly call “Bapu” – The father of the nation. All of us can bring out the great potential sleeping within us, if only we find a high goal that deeply inspires us, like Mahatma Gandhi did.
2) A mind that is free from distraction
As seen above in the example of the intellectual performance of people suffering after undergoing mental trauma, even people who are otherwise considered brilliant, perform poorly when the mind is distracted. Only when the mind is quietened does the intellect starts to perform to its full potential. An individual with a quiet mind is better able to make decisions that are in true alignment with his purpose, and thus increases his chances of success. Also a quiet mind conserves a lot of energy, as it is at peace. A quiet mind is more creative and intuitive. An agitated mind is more prone to negative emotions such as anger, hatred, doubt, insecurity, unworthiness, etc, which wastes precious energy that would be otherwise channeled towards the task at hand.
The other source of distraction come via our senses. It is not uncommon for a person’s intellectual performance to suffer when the mind is distracted thanks to preoccupation with gratifying one of more of the senses – which is what happens when the mind deeply craves for anything. This is why people who experiencing a breakup of their relationship, or are addicted to alcohol or drugs perform well below their potential. Regular meditation reduces our cravings and aversions. It helps to cultivate a mind that is creative, intuitive, and free of distraction, which unleashes more of the power of your intellect to the tasks you undertake.
Your intelligence is not a fixed entity. You have enormous potential within you to enhance it. Each one of us carries within us the seed of genius. Most of us preserve the seed as it, whereas some of us take that seed and grow it into a mighty tree – and that makes all the difference in the world. You are a genius. Once you know this and believe it completely, it is a only matter of time that the rest of the world will acknowledge it too.