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3 hallmarks of genius

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Stupidity can take many forms, but did you know there are certain traits shared by geniuses throughout the ages? See if you possess any of these qualities of genius:

1. Geniuses have developed their ability to concentrate. First of all, geniuses seem to have developed the ability to concentrate single-mindedly on one question, problem or goal at a time to the exclusion of all else.

The more intensely you concentrate your attention and the more intensely you are emotionally involved with a problem or goal, the more likely it is that your mind will respond with the kind of creative ideas you need to solve that problem or reach that goal.

One of the best ways to develop this habit of concentration is to define your goal or problem clearly, in writing, at the top of a piece of paper. Then, write down every single detail that you can think of that pertains to that goal or problem. The more you write, the more likely it is that you will come up with exactly the idea that you need to solve your problem.

2. Geniuses have incredible problem-solving skills. The second quality of geniuses is that they have developed a systematic approach to solving problems. Usually, they clearly outline their problems on paper in advance. Accurate problem definition leads to a solution fully 50 percent of the time. Often, when you have a problem or series of problems causing you worry or concern, it is because you have not yet sat down and clearly defined exactly what the problem is.

Most people who are unhappy in life have no goals. The very act of sitting down and writing out a list of goals changes your perspective completely. When you take your list of goals, organize it by priority and then make written plans to achieve your most important goals, your mind will start to sparkle with ideas. Your negativity and pessimism will vanish. You will experience a surge of energy and enthusiasm, and you will want to get up and get going immediately on whatever it is you have written down.

One of the key steps in approaching your problems or goals systematically is validating the information that you have. As the humorist Josh Billings once wrote, “It isn’t what a man knows that hurts him. It’s what he knows that isn’t true.”

There are an enormous number of things you may think you “know” about your life and situation that are simply not true. One of the best ways to manage your creativity is to carefully check and double check your facts and figures to be sure that they are accurate.

3. Geniuses have open minds. The third characteristic of geniuses is that — invariably — they are open-minded. They are curious, friendly, even playful. They refuse to jump to conclusions or to cut off any line of thinking or train of thought because they know that the solution they are seeking can come from an unexpected direction. They continually ask questions, especially questions that begin with “What if?”

“What if?” questioning is one of the hallmarks of developing and managing your creativity. For example, what if everything you are doing in your current job or situation to achieve your goal or to solve your major problem were completely wrong? What if you were operating on the basis of false information or wrong assumptions? What if what you were attempting to do was actually impossible and that is why you are struggling with it?

Some geniuses are born, there is no doubt. But as this list demonstrates, some characteristics shared by geniuses can be developed, nourished and, yes, even learned. The next time you’re facing an intractable problem or struggling toward a goal, channel your inner Einstein. You may just get the breakthrough you’re after.

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Brian Tracy is the CEO of Brian Tracy International, which specializes in business training, and the author of the best-selling Psychology of Achievement. For more information, go to


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