Geniuses are Made not Born

I’ve been researching some information my SIL read about genius and smart kids recently and it reinforces my belief that Gavin can still become a world champion golfer if he so chooses even if the hubby and I do not possess the genetic material for superior sportsmanship.

The underlying principle is that geniuses are made and not born, and we’re talking about geniuses in any field – science, music, and even sports.  If you want to excel at a sport then there’s no better way to get there than to practice, practice, practice!  Even a person born with “talent” can only get so far on pure talent before they will inevitably be surpassed by other sports people who put in the training time to improve their skills.

My own personal experiences in rock climbing and what I have been able to achieve on a personal level are testimony of this truth.  When I first started rock climbing, I had a friend who climbed better than me in every way.  In order to keep up, I started putting in more climbing hours so that I wouldn’t fall too far behind the rest of the group.  What eventually happened was that I surpassed my friend’s innate climbing talent simply because I trained and she didn’t.

In the field of sports, I never harboured any illusions of being a talented sports person. Instead I had the belief that in order to be good at rock climbing, I had to dedicate the training time to build up my abilities or accept the fact that I would only ever be able to climb 5C routes.  I think this was what allowed me to break through my glass ceiling in climbing.

It was also interesting to hear about an experiment my SIL related to me where the subjects were given electrical impulses to interfere with the function of left brain.  This is basically what I understood of the experiment (although I think you should bear in mind that I’m hearing a second or third hand version of it so some of the essence may have been warped or lost in translation).

The right brain, which is responsible for creativity, is also believed to be responsible for the creation of genius.  It is the logical left brain which sets the limits to the right brain and keeps it in check, therefore it was speculated that if we could block the function of the left brain, we could artificially encourage right brain activity and increase an individual’s creative potential.

In the experiment, subjects were asked to draw a picture of a horse, which was, at best, a mediocre drawing.  They were then given the electrical impulse which interfered with left brain function and asked to draw another horse.  The second drawing was a lot more detailed and a vast improvement over the first drawing.

In a similar real life example, this is partly the reason why some autistic children have displayed tendencies for genius because autism affects left brain function in a similar way to the electrical impulses that were given to the subjects.  In essence, the logical controls of the left brain inhibits us from reaching our full potential because it sets our belief systems.  If we could overcome these limits and actively tap into our right brain, we would have the potential to improve everything we do in life.

An example of what having no limits can achieve can be seen in this story that I read about in Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins:

A student who had fallen asleep in a Math lecture wakes up and sees two equations on the board.  Assuming they were the set homework for the day, he copies them down and sets to work on them when he gets home.  Because he had been asleep through the lecture, he did not hear the lecturer telling the rest of the class that these two equations had never been solved.  Because he had assumed that these equations were homework, he believed they had to be possible to answer.  As a result, he was able to come up with the answer to one of the equations and surprised his lecturer when he handed in the answer at the next lecture.

When I was in school, there were two reasons why I was never able to excel at sports.  The first was because I came from a family that did not deem sports to be particularly important and never gave it any focus.  Since I never had the practice time, I never did well in it at school.  Since I didn’t do well in it at school, nobody ever wanted me on their team and that fostered my belief that I was terrible at sports and would never ever do well in it.  I had set a limit in my mind that sports and me just didn’t gel.

Prior to entering highschool, my brother developed an intense passion for cricket.  My aunt bought him a cricket bat for Christmas and, not having anyone else to play with, he made me play cricket with him all Summer in our backyard.  I guess the practice must have done some good because cricket was the only sport I did well in during Physical Education.  It was a strange feeling to suddenly become a valued team member as opposed to being the team’s downfall.

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