For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
The biggest myth out there is that genius is somehow complex.
We talk about genius like it’s this really intricate, sophisticated thing that almost no one could ever understand. Like it needs layers upon layers of complicated language and concepts to ever be explained.
And the more complicated, clearly the more genius it is.
In fact, we buy into this Church of Complexity so fully that we tend to distrust and deride anything that’s too simple, too easy, too obvious.
In my experience of working with hundreds of people on genius, there’s always one dead giveaway when someone is really tapping into their genius: it’s simple and it’s pure.
Sure, there might be complicated concepts and niche language to unpack that genius. But, at its core, all genius is simple. It’s kind of obvious, in fact. It just smacks you across the face, and you wonder how you never saw it before.
Because that’s what visionaries do. We see into darkness and shine a light for the rest of the world to see, too. We illuminate that which is hidden in plain sight.
We’re more sensitive in our area of genius. We can sense more than others around us. And so we see what others cannot and then shine a light to help them see it, too.
There’s nothing overly complicated about it. Because that vision, that genius, already exists in full force. All we have to do is see it and illuminate it.
Truth is self-evident. When we shine a light on Truth, it’s always pretty damn obvious once it’s seen.
And you can’t unsee what you’ve already seen. The moment we see it, it feels like the glass just shattered, and it’s so obvious. How’d we ever miss it before?
In some ways, it might feel like that genius just got lucky. Of course, eyewear was an industry primed for disruption, Warby Parker. Those prices were outrageous. And, of course, the idyllic façade of small-town America could sometimes hide more insidious horrors, David Lynch.
At its core, genius is always simple and pure. Not complicated and derivative. Because it’s accessing the heart of essence, the heart of Truth.
We’ve all had moments where a friend or therapist said something. And it was obvious on some level. But just the way they said it shook us to the core. And we could no longer unsee what we’d already seen. It changed us. Their simple genius changed us.
I find that whenever a person has to take a really long and complicated path to explain something to me, it rarely ever sticks. And it feels like so much effort. Like it was forced out.
And, as I often say, you never have to try to be yourself. If you’re trying, it means you’re being somebody else.
Genius isn’t borne from effort. It’s borne from allowing.
The most dangerous thing about the myth of the complex genius is that it reinforces that belief that we’re not good enough. That we have to strive and struggle and try to come up with something worthwhile to share.
And, I don’t know about you, but forcing genius with a lot of pressure and time constraints has never really panned out for me too well. But allowing it always has.
When we’re having coffee with a best friend and we give her such great advice that it surprises even us, or when we’re having a passionate conversation and we come to a new understanding of our work—those are moments of genius.
They’re simple and they’re pure. It might even sound similar to language we’ve said in the past. But somehow it just hits us like a ton of bricks. And we can see the Truth in a way we never could before.
That’s not to say we don’t want to work at our craft. Or build mastery. Actually, quite the contrary. Seeing something that alive and real and full of Truth often gives us the conviction to withstand challenges and tedious moments to stay devoted to the work.
Because we can see that Truth. We can see that vision. And it pulls us forward on even our darkest days.
But it’s really about seeing the essence over the details. It’s about choosing the simple, pure heart of the matter, first and foremost, and then letting the details build out from that place. It’s about pruning everything back to the essence as much as possible.
Not adding more because it’s “impressive” or “complicated.” It’s about only allowing the bare minimum that’s necessary to share the essence.
Complexity is the mark of the forceful amateur. Simplicity is the mark of the genius.
And we live in a world today that is not only overly complex—but overly derivative, too. We see TV shows that copy the style and mood of an earlier show, not realizing we’re so caught up in the details but never actually captured the essence.
We hear ideas like “be provocative to be a thought leader” not realizing that genius isn’t provocative for the sake of it—it just may come across as provocative becauseit’s innovative and revolutionary.
We are so obsessed with imitating others’ genius and success that we never really stop to discover our own.
We reiterate the story that we’re not good enough, that we’re not worthy, every time we choose to be a derivative version of someone else over a pure version of ourselves.
You are a genius. It’s that simple. You are a genius. By its very definition. You have a “generative power,” an “inborn nature.” A gift to share with the world that no one else has.
It’s pure. It’s simple. It’s Truth, itself.
Don’t complicate that genius with fancy drapery. It only serves to cover up and dilute the true genius within.
It might not look fancy or sophisticated or complex. But, when we hear it, we’ll know it. We’ll see that which was in front of us the whole time. The Truth that we just couldn’t see before.
And we can’t unsee what we’ve already seen.
That’s the role of the genius, of the visionary, to show us what we can’t see. What we’re not as sensitive to.
What Truth is hiding in plain sight.
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.
Is it way too simple to be genius?
- Do you believe that genius needs to be complex? Do you believe that your ideas and your work are just too simple to be genius?
- Have you ever thought that someone just got lucky stumbling into an area of genius or success? That their ideas were too obvious and too simple, and anyone could have done that?
- What if simplicity is the mark of genius? What if we complicate—and dilute—our genius by trying to make it more complicated? What if our obsession with complexity stems back from feeling “not good enough” again?