Subj: How to Become a Genius
Einstein, Da Vinci, Mozart, Tesla. These names are synonymous with genius.
But what exactly is a genius?
While there is no officially agreed upon definition of genius, it’s generally a title bestowed upon those who exceed even the top minds in their field.
Geniuses are the innovators who, as Sir Isaac Newton put it “see farther than others.” They can figure out solutions and make advances that others can’t.
While geniuses appear in every field, the thing which all geniuses have in common is their intelligence.
This then begs the question, “What is intelligence?”
While the definition of intelligence is also a bit fizzy, generally speaking it refers to an individual’s ability to comprehend ideas and solve problems.
I have always been deeply interested in the subject of human performance and personal development; and while almost everyone is interested in learning about how to improve their bodies, an oft neglected field when it comes to self improvement is mental enhancement.
Most people believe that a person’s intelligence remains constant throughout their lives, but I’ve found that with proper training, the plasticity of the brain allows a lot of leeway for enhancement.
How to Become a Genius
Over the past few months I have been researching and testing methods that the average person can use to increase their intelligence; and have synthesized what I’ve learned down to its essence.
Through all my research I’ve discovered what I believe to be the Four Pillars of Genius. These four pillars are mental attributes which, if honed, will drastically increase your intelligence levels.
The Four Pillars of Genius are…
In this article I will explain how each of these pillars relate to a person’s intelligence and problem solving abilities, as well as give you the exact exercises you can use to significantly increase the power of your brain.
Increase Your Focus
The ability to focus for long periods of time is a prerequisite to learning new information, completing tasks, and solving problems.
Imagine you are a physicist who is attempting to solve a complex physics problem. You stand in front of your blackboard and start to work it out, but after a few minutes your mind begins to wander.
Instead of thinking about the physics in front of you, you begin to replay in your mind an argument you had recently. “What a prick.” You think to yourself. “If only I had said XYZ.”
You replay the scenario a couple more times in your mind; imagining his humiliation as you retort with the perfect zinger.
Next time you’ll be ready.
You refocus on the problem at hand, but before long your mind begins to wander again. Perhaps a quick break is in order.
You log on to Facebook and do a quick scan down your feed to see what your friends have posted recently.
It’s now been two hours and you haven’t accomplished anything…
This scenario plays out in an endless number of ways, from advanced physicists trying to solve complex equations to high school students trying to complete essays.
Imagine if, rather than becoming distracted every five minutes, you could stare at that blackboard for five hours straight, putting 100% of your focus and mental energy into solving that problem.
Improving your ability to focus on a single task will have a profound effect on your intelligence purely by virtue of the fact that you’ll be able to direct your focus on a single problem for an extended period of time without becoming distracted.
Luckily focus is a fairly easy thing to train. It just takes practice.
Training your brain is like training your muscles. If you consistently challenge it, it will adapt and become stronger.
The Pseudo-Telekinesis Technique involves focusing on an object in front of you with all the mental intensity you can muster. By doing this, you will train your brain to focus on a single task while avoiding distraction.
- Start by sitting down at a table and placing a small object on the table in front of you. (A coin, coffee mug, or wallet works just fine.)
- From a distance of about 1-2 feet, stare at the object with as much focus as you can. Stare as if you were trying to move the object with your mind. Put your entire being and all of your mental energy into moving the object. (Obviously the object won’t actually move, but this is the level of intensity you need to use.)
- Continue trying to move the object for 10 minutes straight. If you get distracted or your mind begins to wander, simply refocus on the object and continue. After 10 minutes you can stop and relax.
While 10 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, if you’ve never focused this intensely on a task before it will be extremely mentally exhausting.
The first time you do this you’ll probably feel like your mind is in a fog afterwards; but after repeating this exercise a number of times you’ll find that your ability to focus will dramatically improve.
Remember, everything in life requires focus, whether it’s studying for an exam, painting a portrait, or taking an IQ test.
Improve Your Visual Thinking
One of the most powerful ways to increase your brainpower is to improve your visual thinking ability. In fact visual thinking is the most important attribute a person can have when it comes to having a strong brain.
What is visual thinking?
It’s the ability visualize and manipulate objects in your mind.
Whereas if you were a dog, your brain would be wired to process smells, as a human a large portion of our brains are dedicated to processing visual information. That’s just how we’re designed.
Because of this, the ability to visualize something clearly in your mind makes it much easier for you to remember and understand it.
Let’s talk a bit about how improving your visual thinking will improve your memory and comprehension.
Pythagoras’ famous theorem for finding the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle can be expressed in two ways.
In its algebraic form, your mind can’t really comprehend why A squared plus B squared equals C squared. You just trust that it does. It is only when the Pythagorean Theorem is represented visually that you truly understand the concept behind it.
Not only will enhanced visual thinking abilities increase your ability to understand complex concepts, it can also improve your memory.
All people naturally have a genius-like ability to remember vast amounts of data. They just need to learn how to tap into it.
Let me give you an example of the power of your own memory.
I want you to imagine you’re standing in front of your house. Now walk up to your front door, step inside, and make your way to the kitchen. As you imagine walking to your kitchen, notice how you can picture in your head the layout of your home and exactly where everything is. Once you enter the kitchen, look around. You know the exact location of the sink, refrigerator, trash can, table, lights, chairs. You can see everything in your mind.
You could do this with pretty much any room you’ve been in within the past six months. In fact you could go for a mental walk through your entire neighborhood and remember virtually every building, shop, and restaurant that you’re familiar with.
That’s an astounding amount of information.
You didn’t try to memorize any of this. You just did it automatically. Your brain is designed to memorize places and locations. Without this ability you’d get lost constantly.
This is the same skill that allows savants to memorize entire phone books. Whereas our brains dedicated this ability to memorizing our surrounding, their brains accidently applied that skill to memorizing numbers.
Now what if you too could tap into this incredible ability and apply it to not just remembering locations, but remembering anything…
YOU CAN. You just need to train your visual thinking ability.
Let me show you how to harness this power by working in conjunction with the way your brain naturally functions.
Take about a minute and try to remember the following list of ten words.
Now take out a piece of paper and try to write down as many of them as you can remember.
I’m going to guess that you probably didn’t do very well. Why is this? Because these words are just gobbledygook and therefore don’t create any visual images in your mind. Remember, your brain is designed around processing visual images. Without these visual images your brain has a very hard time remembering. It’s just not what it’s naturally designed to do.
I’ll give you another try. Take a look at this next list of ten words and try to remember them. As you memorize them, try to create a mental image of each object in your head.
Once again, take out a piece of paper and try to write down as many of them as you can remember.
If you didn’t remember all of them don’t feel bad. The average person will only remember around half. That being said, I’m sure you did a lot better than on the previous list. This is because these words actually created visual images which your mind could hold onto.
The reason that you probably couldn’t remember all of them is that even though you formed mental images, your brain didn’t form any kind of connection between the objects, so it has no neural pathways linking one word to the next.
Now let’s do one last list. Once again try to create a mental image of each object in your head, but this time notice the natural association between each word and the following word.
For example, say to yourself: “In a ZOO there is a CAGE. In the cage there is a PANDA. Pandas eat BAMBOO. Bamboo is a type of GRASS…”
Again, write down as many words as you can remember. Picture them in your mind and remember their association to the following word.
If you didn’t get all of them right that’s okay, but I’m guessing you did a lot better on this one than either of the previous two.
You were able to do this because your brain was able to both visualize the objects and create connections between each word where previously there were none.
Congratulations, you’re now working with your brain rather than against it.
By visualizing objects in your mind and making connections between them, your brain will automatically form memories. That’s just how it’s wired.
But how then do you remember words that aren’t typically associated with one another, such as the words in the second list?
There are a multitude of methods and mnemonic devices you can use to accomplish this. I’m going to demonstrate one of them by telling you a short story.
As you read this story I want you to VISUALIZE it in your mind from a first person point of view. Don’t just hear the words in your head, but actually “see” the images in your mind.
You are standing in a forest and directly ahead of you is a log CABIN. You approach it to go inside, but as you go to open the door you realize that it doesn’t have a handle. Instead where the door handle should be is a FORK stuck straight into the wood. You grab the fork and pull it and the door opens to reveal a large brown BEAR in the middle of the room. You realize that the bear isn’t interested in you. It’s actually admiring a PAINTING. You step inside to get a better look at the painting, and as you approach the painting it comes into focus. You find that it is a painting of the American FLAG. You lean in a bit closer to the painting but instead of seeing fifty white stars in the upper left hand corner of the flag, you see that each star is actually a small round aspirin PILL. You look up from the painting and notice some STAIRS going up to the second floor. On the stairs is a broken TELEVISION. You walk over to the television and pick it up, and from underneath the television runs a small MOUSE. Your eyes follow the mouse as it runs down the stairs and into the corner of the room into an empty YOGURT cup.
Now try to remember the ten random words by replaying the story in your mind.
I’m willing to bet that you probably got all of them correct.
You were able to hack into your brain’s ability to think visually and use it to memorize information.
With strong visual thinking abilities you can see information in your head as clearly as if you’d written it on a piece of paper.
This is what some people mean when they say they have a “photographic memory.” While a true photographic memory is a myth, there are people who have an above average ability to see information in their mind in the same way you were able to see your kitchen when I asked you to imagine walking through your house.
School of Phenomenal Memory
If you want to learn more about how visual thinking improves your memory, I highly recommend you read the Giordano Memorization System (GMS) Manual. The GMS Manual is the textbook for the School of Phenomenal Memory which the author has given away for free.
The School of Phenomenal Memory is an online program which can train you to have savant-like memory abilities. One of their students recently became a 3X World Memory Champion after completing their course.
I took this course to improve my own mental abilities and I can guarantee you that you will be blown away by your new skills within the first few lessons.
Within just 5 days of joining you’ll be able to memorize a list of 75 random words and numbers and then repeat them both forwards and backwards.
After 24 lessons you’ll be able to memorize all the information on this page and recite it in forward, reverse, and random order.
And after 60 lessons you’ll be able to memorize literally anything, including ENTIRE BOOKS… In fact they guarantee it.
I have very high standards when it comes to recommending products. Only the best make the cut. So trust me when I tell you that The School of Phenomenal Memory is LIFE CHANGING.
It’s like the real life NZT from Limitless.
- Imagine being able to memorize ENTIRE TEXTBOOKS on any subject
- Do complex math problems in your head
- Memorize long lists of facts and figures
- Learn foreign languages in a matter of weeks
- And more…
With abilities like that you could DO ANYTHING and BECOME ANYONE.
And it’s all based on your ability to SEE information in your head.
Take a look at the following video of the school’s founder and one of his students performing genius-level memory feats. The video is a bit long but it’s worth the watch.
When I first heard their claims of being able to teach anyone to memorize entire books I was very skeptical. That’s why they give away their textbook for free; so you can see exactly what you’ll be learning and verify the techniques for yourself.
They also offer a lifetime money back guarantee. They will refund your money, no questions asked, even years down the line.
I can’t recommend this program highly enough for improving your long term memory and visual thinking abilities.
Along with the School of Phenomenal Memory, here are two other techniques you can use to greatly increase your visual thinking, memory, and comprehension abilities.
#1 Image Manipulation Technique
The Image Manipulation Technique will help to build your visual thinking abilities. As we just discussed, the ability to clearly visual images in your head is of paramount importance when it comes to increasing your intelligence. Strong visual thinking abilities are directly correlated with intelligence.
The Image Manipulation Technique involves picturing an object in your mind as clearly as you can, then mentally manipulating that object.
Tip: Keep your eyes open when visualizing images. You want to train yourself to be able think clearly without having to close your eyes.
- With your eyes open, picture an object in your mind. (Simple objects work well for those who are new to the technique. As your visual thinking ability improves you may want to start working with more complex objects.)
- With the image of the object in mind, mentally examine the object. For example, if you’re picturing a soup can, you want to see the label, the lip of the can, the shimmer of the metal. Make it as clear as possible. See the can in your head with as much detail as you would see it in real life.
- Once you have a detailed image, mentally examine and manipulate the object. Rotate it. Flip it upside down. Zoom in and out.
- Do this for 10 minutes straight every day.
#2 Advanced Image Manipulation Technique
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the basic Image Manipulation Technique you’ll want to switch to the advanced version.
The Advanced Image Manipulation Technique trains a number of mental functions. It helps your visual thinking abilities just like the basic Image Manipulation Technique, but it takes it one step further by also improving your attention to detail and verbal acuity.
The Advanced Image Manipulation Technique involves following the same protocol as the basic Image Manipulation Technique, but this time when you picture an object in your mind, describe it out-loud in as much detail as possible. For example if I were picturing a coffee mug in my mind I would say, “The coffee mug is white and made of porcelain. The lip of the cup curves outwards slightly. On the side of the mug is a handle which is also made of white porcelain. The handle is a half-heart shape. The top of the handle connects about a quarter of the way down the mug and the bottom of the handle connects just above the base. There are vertical ridges going around the side of the cup making it not quite cylindrical. The porcelain is smooth and glossy…”
When you first attempt this exercise you’ll probably run out of ways to describe your object fairly quickly, but as you repeat this exercise you’ll get better and better at focusing on the small details and finding new ways of describing them. For example you could talk about the slight browning of the inside from being repeatedly used to hold coffee. You could describe the maker’s mark on the bottom of the cup. You could describe the cup’s size in relation to your hand, or the minuscule cracks in the porcelain and how they branch out from a central seed point.
Once you get good at this you’ll feel like you are seeing the world with new eyes. Everything around you will suddenly seem infinitely complex, and your ability to notice small details and remember what you see will skyrocket.
Choose a new object each time you do this exercise.
TIP FOR REMEMBERING NAMES: As you just learned, visualizing information helps you to remember things better. With this new knowledge, here’s how to remember people’s names so you never forget them. The first time you meet someone new, spell their name in your mind and visualize each letter as you do it. Really see their name in your mind. By processing their name visually you will remember it better than if you had just processed it auditorily. Do this and you’ll never forget someone’s name again.
Increase Your Creativity
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” - Arthur Schopenhauer
Creativity is mankind’s greatest asset. Our potential for creative thought has led us to become the most dominant species in the history of life on this planet. Every advancement we have ever made, from the use of fire to the invention of the internet has been because someone took a creative leap and said, “What if…”
Unfortunately, out of all the pillars of intelligence, creativity is the hardest to develop; as by its very definition it is something ethereal.
That being said, there are certain ways to enhance your creative potential.
Dual N-Back Training
Let’s say you were trapped at the bottom of a deep hole with nothing but a shovel. In this unlikely scenario, even though you may have never found yourself in that situation before, your mind would be able to think up creative solutions for escaping.
- You could lean the shovel against the wall and attempt to stand on it to climb out.
- You could wave the shovel above your head in hopes of someone seeing it poking out of the hole.
- You could dig into the side of the wall until you’ve collected enough dirt that you could stand on the pile and escape.
- You could bang the shovel on a rock to try to signal for help.
This problem solving ability is what scientists refer to as “fluid intelligence.” It’s the ability to think creatively to come up with solutions to unfamiliar problems, and it’s what most people think of when they think of intelligence.
For a long time, scientists believed fluid intelligence levels remained static throughout a person’s life. Some people were born with high fluid intelligence and some people were born with low fluid intelligence, and you were stuck with whatever hand you were dealt.
That was until 2008 when a study was published in the PNAS scientific journal which set the psychological community ablaze.
The study showed that a memory game known as “Dual N-Back” could significantly improve a person’s fluid intelligence in a shockingly short period of time.
While there were some flaws with the study, it sparked a renewed interest in the study of fluid intelligence, as well as methods which could be used to enhance it.
When Scientists replicated the study (which they did on two separate occasions) they found strong positive results. The study was then replicated another two times with weaker, but still positive results.
So what is Dual N-Back and how can you start using it to boost your IQ?
The game is a bit difficult to explain on paper, but basically it works like this…
You are shown a 3×3 grid of nine squares on a screen. During the first turn, one of the squares will light up, and at the same time a letter will sound.
During the second turn another square will light up and another letter will sound. But this time, either the square or the letter will be the same as in the first turn.
You need to correctly answer whether it was the square or the letter that was the same as the previous turn.
On the third turn another square will light up and another letter will sound, and you again need to remember whether it was the square or letter which was the same as the previous turn.
This first level of the game is called “1-Back” as you are remembering the pattern from 1 turn back.
Level 2 (2-Back) works the same way, except rather than asking you to remember the square and letters from the previous turn, it will ask you about the square and letter combination from two turns ago.
Level 3 (3-Back) asks you to remember the combination from 3 turns ago.
And so on…
Those who get good are often able to recall the pattern from eight, nine, or even ten turns back.
Reports of IQ boosts of 20+ points are not uncommon, and there are more than a few reports of people passing the Mensa Admission Test just a few weeks after putting themselves on a Dual N-Back training regimen. It’s been shown that just twenty minutes a day of Dual N-Back is all it takes to significantly improve your IQ and problem solving abilities.
There is a free version of Dual N-Back which you can download from Brain Workshop.
Along with Dual N-Back there are a few other ways to develop your creativity as well as a few good guidelines which one can follow to assist in expanding their minds.
Thinking Outside the Box
The classic 9 Dots Puzzle expertly demonstrates the power of being able to think outside the box for solutions to seemingly impossible problems.
The object of the puzzle is to touch every dot using four straight lines or less without lifting your pen from the paper. (Lines you’ve drawn can intersect, but you can’t trace over old lines.)
Give it a try if you’d like.
I’ll show you some solutions a bit lower on the page, so don’t scroll down until you’re ready to see them.
The solution below is the “classic” solution. By extending the lines literally “outside the box” you can touch all 9 dots using just four lines.
And once you get your creative juices flowing you’ll see that there are other solutions as well.
Who’s to say you can’t just make one really THICK line that touches all the dots at once?
Many times people get stuck in patterns. They see something one way and never consider other possibilities.
One of the keys to thinking creatively is to ask yourself, “What am I assuming is true?”
With the dot problem, most people assume that they needed to stay within the edges of the box.
Most people assume that the line needs to be skinny.
What else are you assuming is true?
Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most renowned geniuses in history. His journals contained countless sketches of inventions which were centuries ahead of their time. To this day he is famous all over the world for his creativity, and a single page from one of his notebooks can fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.
But even Da Vinci occasionally needed a little help to get his creative juices flowing, and when he did there was one method that he seemed to favor… doodling.
That’s right. The great Leonardo Da Vinci was a doodler. Flowers, geometric shapes, pretty much anything. There is even a famous sketch in one of his notebooks of two crudely drawn penises with legs and tails.
Yes, you read that right. The man who painted the Mona Lisa used to draw dicks in his notebook.
A favorite technique of mine is something I like to call the Random Shape Exercise.
The exercise is fairly simple. You start by drawing some simple lines on a piece of paper. It an be anything from a basic shape to some squiggles. You then look at the shape and use your imagination to turn it into something.
Here’s an example of the Random Shape Exercise that I did. I started with the shape in the upper left corner, and using my creative imagination I was able to turn it into everything from a Venus Fly Trap to two people making love.
There is no right or wrong with this technique. It’s about letting your imagination take over and seeing how creative you can be. In fact the more bizarre and outlandish the better.
People who are world class at something are usually highly specialized. Geniuses are no exception. Geniuses tend to focus on a very narrow field and understand it intimately. A way I’ve heard it described is, “An inch wide and a mile deep.”
Because of this high degree of specialty, geniuses are able to understand their subject so intimately that they can make advances where others who are not as well versed in the subject would not.
If you want to become a genius you should seek to establish a foundation of knowledge based of the works of those who came before you, and then strive to go beyond them.
This level of expertise is not reached easily however.
The great geniuses of history were all obsessed with their work.
Between 1880 and 1890 Vincent van Gogh produced 2,000 works of art. That’s at least four works of art every week for a decade. He would often spend his last remaining money on paint rather than food. This despite the fact that he lived in poverty and only sold one painting in his entire life. He simply loved painting. This obsession is what made him great.
Leonardo Da Vinci was a prolific inventor and artist, and over the span of his life he filled countless notebooks with everything from anatomy sketches and nature drawings to flying machines and weapons of war. The scope of his work is absolutely dumbfounding.
Beethoven continued to compose music even after he had gone deaf.
And even on his deathbed, Mozart spent the last day of his life rehearsing his latest composition.
True genius requires obsession.
That’s the secret key.
Ultimately it’s up to you to get out there and put in the work.
Train your brain. Learn. Obsess over your passion. And maybe with a little luck, you too can become a genius.
Until next time,