Genius is Over-Rated

Nothing in life comes for free. This mantra can be extended to the acquirement of mastery or prowess in a given field. Whether it be mastering multivariable calculus or hyper-realistic art, no glory or success in life can be maintained through effortless means. Contrary to popular belief, being a genius is firstly, not effortless, and secondly, not sufficient enough to be the sole driving factor to success. 

According to Oxford Languages, the official definition of the term genius is, “exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability.” 

Einstein at his job at a Swiss patent office in the dawn of relativity|Photo courtesy of IGE.CH

The important differentiation to be made here is that “exceptional ability” does not always directly lead to success or mastery. Talent serves as a catalyst to success, but without the initial drive or willingness to strive for excellence, a genius mind would be wasted on a lack of a penchant for hard work. 

Too often do people praise the end result of a long and difficult process without acknowledging the tribulations involved in the journey. This is mainly consequent to the popularization of contextless success stories. 

Popular intellectual figures such as Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr are known for being geniuses in their fields. They both paved the road to modern-day quantum mechanics and general physics, and are globally commended for that. When general people compare their intellectual capabilities to that of such accomplished people, they belittle themselves by refusing to acknowledge the hard work that goes into accomplishing such a goal. This happens due to generalizations. 

Nicolaus Copernicus’s book on a heliocentric solar system would have been lost to the wind had he not been resilient enough to write it under the noses of nay-sayers|Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Einstein was rejected by countless institutions and failed to find research opportunities after graduating from university. His theories of relativity were often troped “naive” by his colleagues. Einstein worked so hard to prove his theories that he developed chronic abdominal issues from the stress. But of course, effortless success stories are nicer to learn about than turbulent paths to success. 

The hard work that is embedded in every success story is too often overlooked. The idea of a genius is both misunderstood and overrated. Even in the circumstance of hard work failing to achieve a goal, there are a plethora of different opportunities to pursue. Additionally, persistence is key; for if Einstein or even Galileo gave up on their endeavors because of a lack of public approval, civilization and academia would be far behind its current modern state. 

In the long run, resilience and determination are far more valuable than talent and genius.  A life of persistence leads to eventual success; in contrast, a life of unchallenging accomplishments teaches one nothing but how to pursue the bare minimum. 

Written by Roaa Alkhawaja

Co-Editor in Chief and Senior, Ro'aa Alkhawaja, loves herself a good week of reading, baking, tea-drinking, and eating more Nutella sandwiches than should be humanly possible.

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