The word genius comes from the Latin, and referred to a guardian spirit that watched over the birth of each person; it later became associated with the unique gifts of each person.
For many people, though, it has become associated with the wildly successful (which means financially successful) or someone of high intellect.
But we all possess a unique set of gifts that bear the hallmark of genius.
The trouble is that we have subsumed these amongst a welter of competing demands that means we rarely make time to think about let alone pursue our inner calling.
We live out a life of half-meaning, and certainly one that never goes to the root of who we really are.
You see this all the time: people who say they hate what they do, but are unwilling to change. They believe (erroneously) that they are so far down the rabbit hole – life, money, prestige – that they cannot risk the pursuit of the ethereal for something less than what they have.
But right now we are on the cusp of a new paradigm – the connection economy. In many ways, it is greater than the industrial revolution.
The connection what?
The ability to share a story, inspire a tribe or make art.
Unfortunately, for most people, they have already assigned their future to their past. They don’t believe they are made of the right stuff.
And they close off a huge vista of opportunity.
In times past, the cadence of work assumed that you would find the space in retirement to unleash all the angst and talent that you had hid away; and finally answering your internal voice that had been nagging you to follow your heart.
The problem is, it rarely ends up that way: by the time you get there, your courage, conviction and daemon has all but left you.
No one is pretending that change is easy, but unless we are to be whole again, we deny our genius.
This is not an either or argument e.g. either the current job or risk of a new venture.
It’s about mapping out a future enables you to share more of your genius.
There is no one place to start if you want to give life to your genius but one sure fire way to get you thinking coherently is to start a journal. It can be electronic, but very often the physical act of embracing and capturing those thoughts is far more empowering than the mercy of another hour spent before the computer.
I use a Moleskin but you don’t have to. Anything which you value will do the job.
And this isn’t another to do list but rather a much more important project.
You are going to free a space in your day to write something that answers that internal chatter.
It’s about getting down on paper what has been bugging you.
Give yourself a window of 10-15 minutes each day to write down what’s in your head.
There are two aspects to this that are important: (1) you will be doing something for the first time that answers to that inner chatter; and (2) you will begin to see a pattern emerge which will make you do something constructive.
The way your mind works, you cannot repeatedly write something down without doing something about it.
OK, so you may write down 50 times that you hate your job, but your mind will, by the time you get to the last occasion, have come up with a plan of action.
To be clear. The point of starting a journal isn’t to identify a commercial opportunity. It’s to free up a space to think, something these days we rarely seem able to do for long periods of time (or at all).
Your genius isn’t something though that you can turn on and off at will. It will always be there, and at some stage you have to move beyond the thinking to the acting.
It could be that you are inspired to write; or paint; or take up something that was previously of great love. It doesn’t really matter. Taking up a daily journal will, in time, move you from inspiration to action.
Perhaps it sounds poetic whimsy to believe that the simple act of starting a journal will change your life.
But it will.
And even if it doesn’t, you will find that if you assiduously follow a path where your mind is taking you that you will begin to understand more of your self.
Next week I propose to look at habit change and formation as part of answering your genius but, for now, all I would ask is that you consider starting a journal of some sort, and see if you can make the time to write something every day. There is no right or wrong way.
Just write, write, write.
I know from personal experience that it changed my life.