Showing posts from March, 2022

What is Genius? Part V - Environmental Circumstances and Conclusion

My previous posts explored internal contributors to genius, but one external factor cannot be overlooked.  Environmental circumstances are essential to genius.  Being at the right place at the right time, having the right family, teacher (or mentor) are keys to one's success.  Some say this is luck, but I say it is more.  The stars essentially have to align for a genius to become a genius. Take Terence Tao for instance, widely recognized as one of the best minds in mathematics today.  He was born in Australia to Chinese parents who emigrated from Hong Kong.  Winner of the Fields medal at 31, Tao was a child prodigy.  His father was a doctor; his mother a math and physics teacher.  Hence the brains.  Early on, Tao's parents encouraged their  son to learn at his own (fast) pace and his elementary school tailored a specialized gifted program for him.  Tao surely has intelligence, creativity (in order to win the Nobel equivalent in math), and a lot of grit as he often humbly empha

What is Genius? Part IV - Grit

Thomas Edison once said "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." He is best known for the invention of the electric lightbulb, and had more than a thousand patents under his belt.  Edison wanted to convey that hard work and perseverance, more than anything, are needed for greatness.  These days I think of "perspiration" as grit.  Angela Duckworth, a best selling author and speaker, defines grit as  passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement.  It is not just hard work, but   toiling relentlessly on a passion you stay loyal to despite ups and downs.  Especially the downs. It was generally believed that grit is somewhat genetic, but we now know it is mostly an acquired trait.  Just like IQ tests, Duckworth created a grit scale , which computes a subject's passion and perseverance ratings before yielding a final grit score.  It is often easy to overlook the role of passion in shaping grit. Passion is what