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Quarantine Life

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My business trip to Singapore last month led to a mini-hiatus from blogging.  I am now going through a 7-day quarantine in Hong Kong.  A similar experience last year turned out to be a blast.  Although quarantines are not something most people look forward to, they are appealing to me in a number of ways.  Last year, I experienced what life was like living in a hotel room 24/7  where you eat, sleep, exercise, do HITT/yoga and go to the toilet in a small, confined space.  I gained more appreciation for people who choose to live in tiny bachelor units.  Then there was the lack of face-to-face contact with anyone for days.  Having less communication with my family and social circle can be a blessing in disguise.  The new found quietness put my mind at ease.  It helped me venture beyond the daily routine and reflect on life.  The extra me-time allowed me to get in touch with my inner self.  At times, I felt like a monk full of zen.  With less external distraction, even the 9-5 became more

What is Genius? Part V - Environmental Circumstances and Conclusion

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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

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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

What is Genius? Part III - Creativity

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Creativity is an elusive concept. Googling the word returns a dozen definitions that seem correct at first glance, but none effectively captures its full essence.  I tend to favor simplicity and subscribe to  this portrayal: creativity is the ability to create new ideas or things.  In some ways, creativity is more complex than intelligence.  First it is harder to identify because there are no standardized creativity tests today.  While intelligence quotient (IQ) is a household term, there is yet to be a creativity quotient (CQ). That said, answering aye to most of the following questions is a good tell that you may be creative:  Do you have a curious mind? Are you open to new experiences?  Do you like to take risks?  Do you like to daydream?  Do you have a rebellious spirit?  Are you highly sensitive to the world around you?  Do you catch yourself wondering "what if"?  Is your workplace messy?  Creativity is also less concrete than intelligence because its manifestation canno

What is Genius? Part II - Intelligence

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Needless to say, intelligence has traditionally been a key component to the genius label.  But do we really know what it means? In simplest terms, intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. It is not exactly smarts however, because smarts can be earned through learning while intelligence is innate. How can we measure intelligence? Well, you must have heard of IQ tests. IQ stands for intelligence quotient, which is essentially a score for measuring how intelligent you are.  There are many so-called tests on the Internet, but only two are internationally recognized: WAIS-IV and SB5.  The one I took in 2021 was the WAIS-IV, placing me in the high end of the IQ spectrum.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, these tests are more than just gauges of logical reasoning.  The WAIS-IV has four components, which spans perceptual reasoning, verbal comprehension, working memory and processing speed.  See here  for an understanding of scores from commonly accepted tests.  No

What is Genius? Part I - Introduction

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The word  genius  carries a uniquely satisfying connotation.  There are probably many definitions of the term, with most narrowly focusing on people with extremely high intelligence.  To me, a more encompassing definition is preferred:  A genius is someone who is exceptionally talented in his/her field(s) and creates meteoric contributions to the world.     Einstein fits the bill but so do Michelangelo, Mozart and Kasparov.  Debates have gone for centuries on what makes a genius a genius.  Recent studies have shown that it is not all about brains.  Nature vs nurture debates have ensued, but I will settle on these four essentials:  Intelligence - yes, brains Creativity - also brains  Grit - persevering through highs and lows  Environmental circumstances  - being at the right place at the right time with the right people Let's spend the next few weeks to deep dive on each characteristic that help to shape a genius. - PTS

Rubik's, Solved!

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I tried my hands on a Rubik's Cube in elementary school, only to be met with frustration.  I remembered thinking this was a game only for geniuses.  A second chance came late last year when my 9-5 ordered hundreds of cubes as souvenirs for local marketing events.  After 2 hours of practice over the weekend and with the help of some YouTube hacks, I finally did it! Not Max Park yet, but it made my day.   -PTS