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Creativity Comments by Winston J. Brill, Ph.D.
05/02 Creativity Comment
of the Genius?
Most of us, at one time or another, have called someone a
connotation is usually quite positive.
Wouldn’t you like someone to call you a genius?
I believe that many people, however, are afraid to manage
the genius. The
genius may question everything, may provide better answers than
the manager, or may receive too much credit.
Maybe the genius is just too difficult to control.
But, what is a genius? The
dictionary doesn’t help as it has several conflicting
Would you call Vincent van Gogh a genius?
He was a terrible learner, having spent years working in
first-class art galleries before he began to seriously take up
painting. With all
that gallery experience, he seemed to have no clue as to how to
sell his work, even with a brother who was an art dealer.
By the way, van Gogh wasn’t painting only for
self-satisfaction; he desperately wanted to make a living from his
art. In fact, he
began focusing on portraits, hoping that someone would want to pay
for a likeness painted by van Gogh.
But no takers--and he wasn’t charging a lot.
If you saw his best works during the time he painted them,
you would not (neither did any art dealer) pay particular
attention to them. Was
van Gogh a genius? Or,
perhaps, did he become a genius only years after his death, when
his works became popular?
Decades ago, I went to college with a guy who read--and
remembered--just about everything.
He was a math major, but knew the name of every blood
vessel, muscle, etc. from leisure reading of Gray’s Anatomy.
He was very knowledgeable about art, sports, science,
literature, etc., etc. Classmates
called him, “Encylopedia,” as he was the most easily
accessible source of information (this was prior to the web).
He quit college in his junior year and I haven’t heard
anything about him since. If
he’s an average employee in some software company, would you
call him a genius? If
he is having a difficult time securing a decent job, would you
call him a genius? If
he’s leading an extremely successful group, would you call him a
Was Pablo Picasso a genius?
Even if he regularly, and admittedly, “stole” ideas
from other people?
Are most Nobel Prize winners geniuses?
Does the genius have some special type of thinking process
that we, ordinary folks, are unable to acquire? To be designated, “genius,” do we have to achieve one or
more very significant goals?
Is merely a very high Intelligence Quotient the indicator
of a genius? Does the
genius have to exhibit quirky traits?
However you define genius, shouldn’t you go out of your way
to take advantage of that person’s skill?
Or should you try to keep the genius out of your group?
Perhaps you shouldn’t be afraid of the genius, as there are
few commonalities—other than many potential benefits—from that