How to Be a Genius

Tips for Taking Advantage of Your Intelligence

By Harry Manning
December 21, 2020
Creative-Touch/Getty Images

2021 marks the centennial of Albert Einstein’s recognition with the Nobel Prize for Physics. So, what better time to resolve to become a genius—or at least a little smarter than you are now? 

You may already possess some of the same traits that distinguished some of history’s most famous thinkers. All you need to know is how to reach your potential. Here are some tips proven to work!

Think in Moving Pictures

Genius … means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.
–William James, American philosopher (1842–1910)

Visualization is a kind of mental movie. In their mind’s eye, geniuses see concepts as theater rather than as still photography. Wrote Albert Einstein (1879–1955): “My particular ability does not lie in mathematical calculation, but rather in visualizing effects, possibilities, and consequences.”

Combine the New With the Old

The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.
–Aldous Huxley, English novelist (1894–1963)

By using a familiar concept or thing to describe an unfamiliar object or idea, deep thinkers have found that they can break out of a stale perspective. To help formulate his theory of relativity, Einstein imagined himself riding on a beam of light while holding a mirror in front of himself or standing on a platform while a train passed by.

Find Similarities

True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.
–Winston Churchill, English statesman (1874–1965)

The ability to make juxtapositions has inspired great intellects to see things that remain hidden to others—an outcome commonly known as the “Aha!” moment. For example, Leonardo da Vinci drew a connection between a stone hitting water and the sound of a bell, leading him to conclude that sound travels in waves.

IQ Fact and Fiction

The first intelligence quotient, or IQ, tests were administered in the early 1900s by Alfred Binet to students in France to determine their individual potentials.

Binet’s initial scoring system was later revised to involve dividing a student’s test results by the average result achieved by his or her age group and multiplying this by 100. A student achieving at his or her age group was determined to have an IQ of 100.

A 140 (or above) IQ does not mean that a person is a genius. No reputable testing source uses an IQ number to classify someone in that category. The myth probably originated in the 1920s when Stanford University professor Lewis Terman, developer of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, used students with IQs above 140 in his research.

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