Monday, September 14, 2009


The trouble with Genius ...

The term genius is a convenient label for the rather inconvenient collection of people who fall to the far right of the bell curve in any number of traits/skill sets. In my youth, much to my dismay, I underwent deep IQ testing and was found to fall into the 145+ group – consequently, I was thrust into a special class where we had to learn three languages, and do high math. The languages were never a problem for me – but the math was just puzzlement, disguised in maze of confusion … I just never got it. Eventually, my family moved, and thankfully I was transferred to a school that didn’t have a special class – and my life became significantly less stressful. All of that was a long time ago – and since then the way we think of intelligence has changed significantly (and in my humble opinion, for the better).
It is commonly understood now that there are many different types of intelligence. Some people are far to right on the bell curve with things like body-kinaesthetic intelligence, others excel at interpersonal relationships, others at verbal-linguistic, some at mathematical concepts, others at spatial-visual skills – perhaps we can even extend the idea to the realms of the spiritual and include things like, the ability to be happy, etc. The bottom line is that we now know that people excel in an amazing variety of ways; some people do better than average at business, others at relationships, some at problem-solving and others till at high math or physical skills. In days gone by, when we lived in tribal societies, everyone knew the best man (or woman) for the job – if you wanted to run down a gazelle, then Fred was your man, you needed to cure the snake-bite then Henrietta was your woman; need to make fire, go get Joe … and so on. No-one was expected to excel in all areas – individual people gravitated toward their strengths and most people had something that the could do better than most. We see this on the mat all the time; different students have different strengths, different weaknesses and therefore, different types of games. Extending this idea beyond the confines of the mat, it is perhaps worthwhile considering what each of our strengths are – in the shorter-term applying these strengths to the way in which we interact with the world – and in the longer term, how we can improve our weaknesses. It is very easy to focus on the former and put-off or ignore the latter. The trouble with a strong and well-0defined game on the mat, is that it can become difficult to put it aside and develop other areas of the game that are not so strong. And the same goes for life – strength or genius in one area often walks hand in hand with a serious deficit in another area. Great at business but bad at relationships? Gifted with BJJ but bad at stand-up? Amazing with math but bad at organizing your day? Such is the trouble with genius …

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Isn't it an indictment on our society when the main stream expects such a high performance level across the board? Then ignores the special skill set that one may have as it dose not fit the norms of the greater group.

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