Thursday, June 28, 2012

Touch of Genius?



I had an interesting conversation with someone once on how all greatly influential men in history have very little known about their children. As in the greatness does not seem to transcend into future generations. We wondered why that was...was it because these strong-natured men were so caught up in achieving their own success that they neglected their posterity? Or was it that greatness is something innate that cannot be taught? Think about it, Albert Einstein, Alexander the Great, Galileo, Aristotle, Caesar, Isaac Newton, Darwin, Van Gogh, Shakespeare, Mozart, Freud, Karl Marx. Who are their children? Did they leave any mark in this world? Maybe, maybe their kids were extremely bright, intelligent, and successful but evidently not as much as their parents. If they had been, we would know their names. You would think that someone with such an influential personality, possessing such revolutionary ideas or strong leadership qualities would be able to instill those into their children and breed that sort of excellence, no?

I think this person was pondering this question, because he himself has been very successful. Yet, his children are just average. They have normal jobs living with normal families doing fairly well in life, but no major world or life changing successes to speak of.

I didn't say it to him at the time, but to myself I slowly began to formulate the understanding that perhaps being a "successful" and influential person requires a personality that is different from the norm. They might become great leaders, thinkers and innovators who left their mark in history, but a lot of these individuals possessed subpar communication abilities. Those “people skills” you often hear about are an important facet of an average personality that these individuals seem to lack. It is interesting that in our recent era two individuals who are very influential also had similar things said about them; Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. People who have interacted closely with both have said they were near genius, yet were very demanding, unpredictable, and at times very difficult to work with.

It makes sense though. Not everyone can be genius; that has to be a special trait reserved for only an elite group. And while there probably isn’t be a defined formula for genius, but it looks to me that perhaps these geniuses are so in tuned with certain parts of their brain, the parts that focus on creating, designing, seeing out of the box that they simply can’t get it to function when it comes to simple tasks such as having a casual conversation with an acquaintance. It’s well known that many highly acclaimed men in history were reclusive and avoided public interaction. Maybe they were snooty and thought the masses to be beneath them or maybe their brain just couldn’t do the ‘normal’ social interaction as well as everyone else? Relationships with parents, siblings, spouses and colleagues can all be strained with an erratic personality. Yet, is it a price that’s worth paying when you can be highly admired worldwide and have numerous books and movies created about you? So what would you rather be. Socially inept or genius? Perhaps all those people’s children saw the strangeness in their successful father’s personality and unconsciously decided they’d rather be normal and unknown. Or maybe if we dig deeper, we will find that those successful men had a childhood incident leading them to become the socially incompetent individuals they are, it caused them to block out all human emotion and focus all that energy towards greatness. So then it must be that we all need to have childhood scars and tortured souls to become genius? Should I go home and start giving Ali traumatic experiences so he can grow up to be genius? Maybe I’m thinking too much into this….Haha! I’m just wondering what it is I can do to guide my own child in the direction of being a strong leader and innovator. The more I think about it though, the more I am okay with him growing up to be anything as long as he’s happy. Everyone wants what’s best, but sometimes what’s best is just being yourself no matter how ‘average’ that is.


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