Thursday, October 2, 2008

Genius Slowly

Got a book recommendation yesterday from Norm and it inspired a post. The book is A Whole New Mind by Daniel H Pink - I haven’t read it yet but of course off I went to his site and then to Google, got a review, read one of his articles called What Kind of Genius Are You (he writes for Wired). Hmm, wonder what attracted me about that title. Oh who doesn’t want to find out they’re a genius of some kind or other! Turned out to be a fascinating read.

Basically Pink interviewed a David Galenson of University of Chicago’s Economics Department – He relates a pivotal point in his education:
“On the first day of class, the professor displayed a stunning image of a Renaissance Madonna and child. “Pablo Picasso did this copy of a Raphael drawing when he was 17 years old,” the professor told the students. “What have you people done lately?” It’s a question we all ask ourselves. What have we done lately? It rattles us each birthday. It surfaces whenever an upstart twentysomething pens a game-changing novel or a 30-year-old tech entrepreneur becomes a billionaire.”
Now, that’s me to a T at the moment – wondering where I took a wrong turning, didn’t see a sign, blinked at the wrong time. So I read on with eager anticipation. Turns out Galenson meticulously researched important artists and followed what age they peaked; the results, some peaked early, some peaked late (yes, I am in the late period already – but at least there’s still hope). The early peakers he termed ‘Conceptual Innovators’, people who come out ‘BAM’ with a status shaking new statement – brash and surefooted despite their young age. My group he termed ‘Experimental Innovators’. I’m not claiming genius, I’m just relieved by reading this article – his theory outlines the EIs tendency to go through things slowly building up knowledge to eventually come out with their masterpiece. That’s me, sifting through endless Internet pages, experimenting with stuff, trying to put opposites together, wanting to figure out something special in the end.

The article does later concede that there are a whole realm of levels in-between these two extremes and I may well be in the middle there somewhere, but it does relieve that nagging pressure the status quo has us suffer, thinking that we’ve left it too late to succeed. With smart work and dedication to purpose we can still deliver more than we realize; it’s not a given that the older generation are out of touch or has-beens, history shows that in fact a large number of geniuses – in art an other areas – gave the world their genius after 40 and some well into their 60s 70s.

So I went back to the ‘A Whole New Mind’ review thinking it must be pretty much about this. I was wrong – seems this theory is that we are entering a new age – had the Agricultural and Industrial Ages where strength and endurance were what counted, the Information Age where scientific logical linear thinking counted and now we are entering the Conceptual Age where creativity, empathy and intuition are what will count. So you know by now, I’m a happy gal – looks like I may not have been sleeping at the wheel after all.

So I’m starting today feeling like there’s double the possibilities unfolding. It’s good to have reassurance that you’re not totally off track – even when all such theories are taken with my pinch of salt I keep safely on my person at all times. Hard, well done work is still a core ingredient for success for the most of us – there really are only a few for whom luck is their main benefactor and I tend to believe they often have a fleeting 15.

For me, I’m happy to make a slower progress, but know that my pace has to pick up now – this is the time. I’m looking forward to reading the book but I’m having to learn to read faster so I can fit all this in! It’s so easy to be waylaid by ‘preparations’ – “I’ll just read this, fix that, get those, try them…” the list can go on and on, but I know I still need guidance and honing of skills; it's only recently I've started truly aiming for focus and reading more is one of my core aims for self development. Working Smart is a skill I’m still learning.

Apparently I'm also still forgetful - yesterday's Alphabet Attitude will now be today's: Q is for Quasar - brightly shining star.


  1. Finola, of course I'm tracking your posts via RSS. So, I'm so glad that you're now onto Dan Pink...he was just interviewed by Miss can get her podcast on iTunes.
    Thanks for this post. I too wonder if this is my time to excel...better late than never...but, of course, my time horizon is diminishing quickly so I need to accelerate my efforts a bit...without sacrificing the "power of now" (Eckhart Tolle).
    Take care.

  2. Finola, my sincere apologies to you, Oprah, and all your readers for not spelling Oprah's name correctly in my previous comment. Obviously I have not yet mastered "the now" and my fingers and mind skipped ahead too quickly and without relishing the richness of the moment.
    I'm on my knees asking for forgiveness!!

  3. Hey, I can finally respond - I'm checking out the podcast - sent it to an ex-student of mine who's really into Manga also, she knew about his manga business advice book.

    Hey, please don't apologize for typos or I'll have to watch myself even more closely:) I so often click back n forth fixing posts I thought I'd fixed already! I'm trying to stay in the now but my fingers are going forward and backward all the time!