Everyone is born a Genius
A few years ago during a seminar at a seminar with Mary Morrissey at the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California, I heard some statistics that blew me away.
Until the age of 2, 99% of children show indications of having genius capacities.
By the age of 5, that number has reduced to 80%. By 12 it's down to 20% and
by the time the children have grown and reached the age of 20, that number has plummeted to 2%.
Why? Studies tell us that the strongest component it that of the internal voice of self-criticism.
When we are children, especially under the age of 7, we are constantly absorbing messages from our environment and especially from those who are the authorities in our lives, which for most of us means our parents. Normally we assume that that voice inside our heads is true and we give it a lot more authority than it deserves. For example, we see the way an elder brother is treated by his father if he wins a trophy at football, compared to how his sister is received if she does something similar. If there is a marked difference where the boy is celebrated more (because of past traditions that lauded the male of our species), then the girl grows with an inner voice of 'not enough’. And no matter what she achieves, she will always feel not enough, because of gender, which she cannot change.
On the other hand, if I were born a boy and received messages that I must always be strong emotionally, I must never be vulnerable because that means weakness, then it is certain that my genius in the area of emotional and relational intelligences, will be seriously reduced. The many generations of boys growing up with this powerful message can suffer greatly because it is not real to expect anyone to not feel fear, to not feel uncertainty, to not feel.
The inner critic is born by watching, feeling, assessing and sensing. Basically we are like sponges in the first 7 years of our lives. Remember we were born geniuses and so we are very capable of interpreting super-subtle signals and then applying that information to our own lives - even at the very young ages between 0-7. By the age of seven those messages have been internalized as ‘realities’, forming the foundation of our personalities and modus operandi in the world. For good or no.
The Recovery Process
So as we start to look into creating the life that we would truly love to live, an essential aspect of this process is recovering our genius, our multiple intelligences.
Of course the first step in that is to tame the inner critic. In the past that was a difficult task because all evidence suggested that improvement would come through brutal self-criticism. If we just focused on our weaknesses, we’d be able improve, be the best, be enough, be strong - be acceptable, talented, successful and therefore lovable.
Luckily these days there has been so much work in the area of Positive Psychology highlighting the fact that this way of educating simply undermines the natural talent of the individual. Studies with elite athletes for example, have shown us very clearly that by focusing on that which the athlete is doing exceptionally well, by editing performance videos to observe and unpack the best of their efforts, results in significantly greater improvements than by showing video feedback of their weaknesses.
So how do we turn this ocean liner around?
They say that it takes 7kms to turn around a huge ocean faring ship from the moment it starts to turn to when it finally straightens up and is facing the other way. A huge amount of energy has been invested in its trajectory and the power required to make a change is significant. It is the same with us and turning around the habit of self-criticism and criticising others and life in general requires great discipline. However if we are to regain our genius, or if we are to help our children and the children we teach to maintain their genius, then this change is fundamental and absolutely necessary.
The pattern is very strong and the belief is almost immutable that criticism is the method that works. But it is a matter now of recognizing the reality, of understanding the logic, retiring the belief and then training the mind to orientate towards that which generates life and positive energy.
Start with this:
Make a list of between 5 and 10 qualities or talents that you can appreciate in yourself. This is not a matter of ego, it´s a matter of fact. You are allowed to be grateful for those aspects of yourself that are positive and powerful, beautiful and life-giving.
(And if you find that challenging, start from the ‘outside and move inwards’. What do I mean by that? List 3-5 things that you have done in the past 2 days that you think had some kind of a positive impact - for you or others. Anything…something simple like letting someone change lanes in front of you in the traffic or finalizing a challenging presentation or not eating that chocolate you have sitting in the refrigerator. Then when you do that, you can see the qualities behind the action. Kindness, generosity, commitment, discipline, creativity, and so on.
Then every day, keep the ship turning by consciously choosing to appreciate, to be grateful, putting your focus on what is good and life-giving. While at first it may feel 'light' and 'not serious', after a very short period you will begin to notice amazing results such as:
more energy, more clarity, more creativity, more happiness, more confidence, more, more, more... Give it a go and see. And if you can do it for yourself, you will see an incredible impact on those whom you love as you start to focus on their qualities and strengths.