Genius or Brilliant

‘I am reading a book about our genius. It’s great. You should get it’ so said my friend/colleague from North Carolina. I had two thoughts: the first was ‘Joan, that’s what my book is about, you’ve been on my course, you should know’. What I replied to her, meekly, was the first part of my thoughts; the second thought was a question. Would we use the word genius in G.B.? Do we actually think we have a part of ourselves that is genius or do we self deprecate thinking genius is a term for exceptional intelligence?


Genius is that part of us that is unique, and which we can offer to others or the world. The debate, are we born with it or does it develop with experience, is a one for another time. All I know is one of the main drivers for my developing Intuitive Career Management was a trend I noticed in my clients, which related to accepting what they were good at, and consequently their self worth. One of the basic exercises many career coaches, including myself, use is ‘list your 50 achievements.’ After a visible gasp, I explain that an achievement is what you like doing, are good at, something you have done which gives inner satisfaction and recognition. In the last five years, I noticed that people struggled more than ever to get to 50 and less were work related, so much so I started to specify 30 were to be work related. This exercise is the basis for CVs and interview preparation. It strikes me it is also the step before ‘getting to genius’.


My mind was working overtime as I continued talking with Joan. What if I asked my clients which achievements reflected their genius? It would help them acknowledge their uniqueness, an essential part of Intuitive Career Management. Was genius too American? What about using the word brilliant instead? Brilliant is colloquial for something great. Accepting what we are brilliant at can be tough. Nelson Mandela quoting Marianne Williamson (*) in his inaugural speech.-,sums it up:


'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?'


I decided to try my thoughts on brilliance with one of my clients. He has a high profile role, which uses his leadership, change management, communication and negotiating skills. He is currently transitioning his organisation into another. At the end of 2008, he will be changing career. Each time we meet, his future options grow in number because of his discussions with others and the opportunities he sees.  I feel overwhelmed by them, as I think he does. My question for him is going to be ‘What are you brilliant at?’ In time, he needs to ask others their opinions. Maybe career change will be easier if we move our thinking from what are we good at, to what are we brilliant at and make sure we continue doing it. Maybe we will enjoy our work more too….. more about that soon.


*Marianne Williamson Return to Love 1992


© Judith Mills 2008