We all believe in the myth of the eureka moment – when some fantastic idea hits us out of the blue in the middle of the night, sending us scrambling for a piece of paper and ink to capture it before it’s gone.
This is a really nice idea and fun to think about, but the truth is that genius thinking is a little more, well, boring than that. Think about your last eureka moment. Was it really a single idea or was it yet another idea in a string of ideas that didn’t quite fit?
We want to believe that these eureka moments are magical because if it’s magic, we can excuse ourselves from being geniuses. “I never have ideas that just hit me; I’ll leave it to someone else. I’m not really a creative person. I’m more of a implementer.”
Generally speaking, when we say someone is a genius, what we mean is that whomever we are referring to has solved a problem in a way that no one has solved it before. Being a genius has nothing to do with being brilliant or winning Nobel prizes or getting a PhD in astrophysics. Being a genius is about using your insight and your initiative to find original solutions that matter.
Genius isn’t about having a great idea. Genius is about having all kinds of half-baked ideas that fail or don’t quite work or resonate until they do. People who do creative work fail all the time. Can you imagine how much courage and grit a cancer researcher has?
When our lizard brain kicks in, when you are working on something important, when you are approaching your genius moment and the outrageous force of resistance weighs you down, there is only one thing you can do.
Initiate a serious shift.
Keep at it. Push as much as you can for as long as you can and accept one failure after another. Sooner or later, the lizard gets bored, resigns itself to your eventual success and gives up.