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Is genius an innate skill or an acquired skill?

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Is genius an innate skill or an acquired skill?

This question often haunts newly-made parents, because everyone wants to say: “We raised a genius”. There is an opinion that genius can be developed, it is enough to load the child with classes in various sections or circles from childhood - it will definitely shoot in one of the spheres.

It's true? Is it possible to develop in a child a unique ability for something from a scientific point of view, or is it just a matter of heredity?

Genius, giftedness, talent - how to distinguish

First, let's look at popular concepts that are in some way considered synonymous. How does a genius differ from a highly intelligent or talented person? In fact, these concepts have fairly clear criteria that help to separate them.


People who are capable of changing the world by their actions, making a contribution to the development of progress and possessing exceptional abilities in one direction of activity are geniuses. They create something unique that did not exist before. Often such people are characterized by the following trait: they are excellent in one direction - science, technology, art, politics - but their skills noticeably "sag" in others. For example, they are not at all adapted to everyday life or social communication.

Deciphering the term "genius" has aroused the interest of scientists since ancient times. By the definition of the Romans, this is the highest degree of manifestation of creativity and personality abilities. For many centuries, scientists even tried to identify the physiological differences between geniuses and other people - they compared the volume of the brain, for example. However, no significant signs were found. On the contrary: the more it becomes known about the phenomenon of human genius, the more questions arise.


The presence of talent is the obvious ability of a person for some kind of activity, which can be brought to perfection by making efforts for a certain time. This is confirmed by the popular phrase about talent:

Talent is 10% giftedness and 90% labor.

A talented person will be able to achieve success by making some effort in a field that is interesting and easy for him. And if you make efforts above the norm, you will get an outstanding result without exaggeration. In this case, the person's talent is recognized.

Again, it can be said without exaggeration that genius is actually an exaggerated talent. However, if a talented and gifted person takes up one business, the first will quickly achieve the first successful results and, in principle, will be able to move further than the second. A gifted person will have to apply more work and perseverance to develop a skill to which a talented person is already predisposed from birth. Talented people may have skills in several directions, but to develop the skill, choose one of the areas where they will put more effort in order to succeed. These are above average skills.

Another striking characteristic that distinguishes a talented person from a genius is the environment. If for the disclosure of the first potential it must be favorable (people already working in some area, or parental support in mastering a skill by a child), then in the second case, a genius is born when unfavorable conditions are created. This pattern can be easily traced from biographies - Einstein, Van Gogh, Edgar Poe, Michelangelo, Tesla and many others. Everyone's childhood was far from cloudless, and some of them retained their tension even after they matured.


Again, the lack of obvious talent in some way does not mean that mastering this skill will not work. An innate tendency to some kind of activity is called giftedness. With such a predisposition, a person can learn any kind of activity that he likes.

For example, music. From childhood, a child shows wonders of rhythm and begins to dance when he hears music, so his parents send him to a music school. He is gifted with musical abilities that can be developed. But it also happens that the kid hardly learns the basics of musical notation (solfeggio) or hears the tonality of sounds poorly - then he will need to put in a little more effort to learn. A talented person can be seen from the fact that some area is given to him easily, literally without effort, and if efforts are made, they bring quick results.

Any person can be gifted in any area. Speaker Josh Kaufman spoke at the TED conference, where people who have achieved success in various fields talk about some of their ideas worth spreading. He told how, based on the theory of acquiring mastery in 10,000 hours - if you want to get a new skill and become a professional - he created his own approach: you can master a new skill from scratch in just 20 hours. Using his example, he demonstrated how he learned to play the ukulele just according to the concept of 20 hours, allocating 40-60 minutes for this task during a month.

What factors influence the development of genius?

Many studies have been conducted on this topic: one of them belongs to the professor of psychology Dean Keith Simonton, who formulated his answer to the question of whether it is possible to create conditions for the development of genius.

First of all, he divided the very concept of genius and its manifestation into 2 types:

  • Achieving outstanding results in some area through colossal hard work
  • An innate intelligence of an exceptionally high level.

Based on his research, the scientist identified 3 factors for creating an environment where a person with the potential of genius can express himself. The data is collected from surveys of ordinary students, but is applicable to gifted peers.

  • Autonomy. People, in principle, and potential geniuses - especially, should be able to choose a field of activity for development, then they are more likely to realize their potential. And if a person from childhood was directed somewhere by his parents, making decisions for him, there is a chance that such a genius will never be realized.
  • Values. People who value their research or other accomplishments will happily work independently. The closer to their life the area in which research or creative activity is carried out, the more efforts they will apply. Perhaps that is why the projects of geniuses often become their lives in the literal sense.
  • Hard work and competence. It is logical that before reaching new heights in any business, you need to understand its fundamentals and know the basic things in order to be able to appeal them. For example, a child with an ear of genius without knowledge of musical notation will not be able to transfer to paper what, like a genius, he can hear in his head. Here, of course, parents or mentors can suggest in which of the areas it is better to acquire knowledge in order to be able to reveal genius. You will say that everyone goes through this path, how will such a child differ from a simple one? The ingenious will pass this way of obtaining basic knowledge many times faster than others.

Another scientist from Britain, Hans Eysenck, also researched issues related to genius, and was able to prove that creativity and free thinking (the same genetic predisposition to genius) is associated with a biological factor only by 15%. This study greatly enhances the fairness and objectivity of the phrase that geniuses do not give birth, but become.

The influence of the environment in the development of genius is as noticeable as a set of genes for "genius", since the environment will help to unleash the potential of genius faster.

What are the traits that distinguish geniuses from other people - 7 signs that you are an unusual person

Have you ever wondered if there are geniuses among your friends and acquaintances? With such a question, a natural counter question may arise in my head: what are the signs of identifying a genius? Except for the very obvious - did the child complete the entire school curriculum by the age of 10, or did he compose the first symphony at the age of 12?

Here are a few personality traits that may suggest that you are not just a talented person, but with the makings of a genius:

  1. Creative thinking

Moreover, such that it cannot be hidden. This is a too rational approach to solving the simplest problems, not typical of age, the ability to combine incompatible things, to think wider than the proposed framework. It is thanks to this skill that geniuses ultimately make scientific or technical discoveries, create masterpieces of art.

  1. High productivity in a highly targeted area

Genius tends to find manifestation in one direction of activity: art or science. A genius is equally likely to have a mathematical or humanitarian mindset and realize his potential in connection with this feature. Children of genius in modern conditions are not excellent students, on the contrary, they can often receive censures about their complete inability to some subject. For example, Einstein studied very poorly and was even considered a lagging child. In this case, teachers can only give freedom of self-realization and not force them to study all subjects through pressure. Grown-up geniuses will hardly feel upset about being carried away by only one field of activity out of the existing diversity - they will be too busy with their discoveries.

  1. Realization of a special calling

Children or adults, predisposed to genius, feel their strength, so deep down they understand in what area they should realize their genius. Often they set themselves a global task: to make a discovery that will benefit the whole world, or to discover a medicine that will save people from diseases. In general, their activity is not completely directed towards recognition, it is altruistic. It is the awareness of this highest goal that helps them overcome difficulties and show incredible perseverance.

  1. Persistence

No genius can do without incredible perseverance, because often discoveries go beyond all existing ideas about the world, and in order to get there, one needs determination and inflexibility. There are simply no people with a weak character or willpower among genius people. In fact, genius is perseverance, multiplied by talent in an exaggerated form and a narrow direction.

  1. Self-confidence

Since geniuses from birth have an intuitive awareness of the mission of their existence, they are confident in themselves. However, this cannot be called pride or vanity - it is the calm confidence of a person who knows why he is here. Their discoveries and innovations are often ahead of the time in which they were born (like Nikola Tesla). Therefore, it often happens that while a genius is alive, it is difficult to understand him - they talk about a significant contribution to progress several generations later. Because of their strong self-confidence, such people are not afraid to take risks (because they subconsciously know what they are doing), do not focus on failure, but look for ways to achieve the desired result in any way. A striking example of the latter thesis is Thomas Edison, who needed to find several hundred non-working ways before he invented electricity.

  1. Intuitive thinking

Since very often the knowledge that they can transfer to the world defies logical explanations, geniuses act at the call of an inner voice that can literally lead them along. Most often these are unexpected flashes of enlightenment, which give a person the opportunity, after a certain stagnation in the project, to move forward dramatically. The inner "I" and intuition are inseparable companions of any genius. It is very important for geniuses to be able to hear this voice without getting too hung up on rational thinking, because this is the only way to create something out of the ordinary. Some researchers even believe that geniuses tend to deliberately enter a meditative state when faced with a particularly difficult task. Examples are widely known when decisive discoveries were made in a dream (periodic table of Mendeleev or Chopin's works)

  1. A special view of the world and innate abilities

Brilliant people are distinguished by a slightly freer and broader view of the world. As if they know how to go beyond the proposed framework and see what is hidden from view. But in order to translate such bold ideas into reality, it will take just the skill of self-expression and perseverance in finding resources to implement your ideas. Without applying such a broad perspective in practice, they will feel misunderstood.

What do you say - have you ever met such people?

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