For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
When my sister was in high school, she managed a tanning salon that also—secretly—sold counterfeit purses.
I asked her once how realistic they looked.
“Well,” she told me. “They mostly look similar, but there are subtle details in the stitching and leather and craftsmanship that will give it away.”
Apparently, it takes immense sensitivity to notice the subtle differences.
In a world where expertise is guaranteed in a six-week course, where you can become a Reiki Master in just a weekend, and where everything is pressured to be faster, cheaper, and easier, it can be really challenging to notice those subtle differences.
Fortunately, we visionaries are “too sensitive.” Sensitivity is our specialty. It’s where our genius lies.
The biggest challenge with mastery is that it’s subtle. The difference between an amateur and master is very rarely all that obvious. Mastery demands great devotion for incremental improvement.
It’s subtle. But it’s mastery.
Maybe it can’t be seen. But it can be felt.
If we thought we were only buying a bag that looked fancy and could impress people, then of course a derivative imitation would suffice. But that’s kind of like picking up a glass without any water in it. Sure, it looks the same—but there’s no essence inside.
It doesn’t satiate us. And so we go on to buy more.
But, if we realize we’re never really wanting a bag or coaching session or piece of art—we’re buying an essence, an experience, a taste of someone’s genius—then things begin to change.
I’m not going to dinner for just food. I’m going for artistry. For inspiration. For passion and creativity. To watch a chef make a plate of food come alive and dance before my eyes.
Only genius can give life where it wasn’t before. Without the essence of genius inside, we’re just staring at another empty container—like that empty glass of water.
And we’re never satiated. So we consume more and more. Unconsciously searching for the thing that’s going to make us feel fulfilled and purposeful.
And it’s hard to tell the difference. There’s plenty out there that looks like it’s satiating. I spent most of my life hunting those things down in desperate pursuit of meaning.
We might not be able to see the difference. Or even hear the difference. But we can feel it.
We know when we’ve accessed the work of the genius—true mastery—in ourselves or in others. Because suddenly we can just stop searching for more. We’re no longer ravenous. For the first time—maybe in a long time—we’re home.
We feel it in a real friendship or relationship. We feel it in clothing that feels full of essence. Or a home that feels good to us. Or work that feels so aligned.
A container without genius is a container without life. It might look and sound just like the real thing. And we can’t figure out why it doesn’t feel so satisfying to us. Because it has no life, no essence, no genius to offer us.
The thing about genius is it automatically enables mastery. In fact, mastery isn’t even possible without genius. Because mastery is simply the relentless pursuit of bringing that genius forth. It’s knowing that the potential—the vision—is already alive. And just offering it to the world.
That’s our role as visionaries. We’re sensitive enough to see something alive that others can’t see. And so we bring it forward for the rest of the world to see.
Michelangelo famously said, “I saw the angel in the marble, and I carved until I set him free.”
The mastery wasn’t in pursuit of his own ego. It was simply because he saw life where we couldn’t. He saw genius. And he needed to share it with the rest of us.
I know graphic designers who spend hours and hours choosing just the right font. Would their work look good if it were a different font? Probably. It’d be so subtle most of us wouldn’t be able to see the difference. But I bet we could feel it—even if we didn’t know it.
Because a visionary’s job isn’t to create something from thin air. A visionary’s job is to sense the genius that’s already very much alive and then create the right environment for it to be born.
Sometimes, when I write, I’m looking for a word. And there are plenty of synonyms, but it’s not the right word. I know because I can feel the thing wanting to be born, and I can feel that this wouldn’t quite birth it in the way that I want.
And then I find it—and boom—somehow it clicks. And it’s subtle. Most of us would never even notice it. It’s the stitching in the purses. We need to be extra sensitive and pay extra close attention to even see it.
But it’s the difference between a lifeless container and mastery.
Most of us think that geniuses can do things better than anyone. But I’d argue that it’s more they’re in tune with their sensitivities. They can sense the genius, the life force, the vision. And then all they have to do is create the right circumstances to bring it to life.
It’s really easy to build mastery when you can feel the genius as being fully alive. And you just check against it.
“Is this right? No, no. How about this?”
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have very strong willpower, and I’m not great at forcing myself to do anything I don’t love. So it’s really hard to go those extra miles toward mastery if this would be good enough.
But I never have to push or strive. Because I’m not forcing something forward. I’m connecting with a genius that already exists and just offering it to the world.
My job as a visionary isn’t to create genius out of thin air. It’s to give a home to the genius that already exists.
And, once we understand that, everything changes. All we have to do is be sensitive enough to feel it. And in love enough to create a home for that genius to safely be shared.
It’s subtle. But it’s a world of difference. It’s genius.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
How can you tell if it’s actually genius?
— Have you ever purchased something or had experiences that looked great but somehow never satiated you? Do you ever struggle telling a real friendship or work opportunity or program from a “counterfeit”?
— Have you told yourself that you’re just not disciplined enough or have enough willpower to pursue mastery? Have you been convinced you just have to create something out of thin air, only to give up on it after a little while?
— What if your genius is already alive? What if your job isn’t to create something out of thin air so much as to connect with something that’s already alive and simply give it a home for that life to express itself?