7 Ways To Become a Genius

Is it possible that only 10,000 hours of hard work separate any one individual from attaining mastery in a complex field? According to Malcolm Gladwell, what we refer to as ‘genius’ isn’t necessarily an inborn genetic trait, but rather a combination of factors, including culture, economic background and, most importantly, the willingness to work hard to achieve a goal. Gladwell theorizes that the most successful people spend at least 10,000 hours working on refining their skills in a particular area before they become experts. So how can you master anything you set your mind to? Here are seven ways to transform yourself into a world-class expert in the field of your choice.

1. Do What You Enjoy.
There’s no fun in hard work, unless you are deeply invested in what you will achieve. By gravitating toward something that you have a natural interest in, it will be easier to stay focused and motivated.

2. Broaden Your Social Circle.
Nobody — not even Einstein — makes it alone in this world. Geniuses are as much a product of who is around them as what they bring to the table. Knowing more people helps you make better connections, which leads to new opportunities. As Gladwell’s example of Christopher Langan proves, even an IQ of 195 won’t bring you success unless you have someone who can help you take advantage of it.

3. Focus.
As we already mentioned, 10,000 hours of hard practice is the minimum amount of time to achieve mastery in anything, whether it’s architecture, writing, physics, or playing the piano. Setting aside regular 90 minute chunks of time where you can intensely focus is the best way to rapidly improve your technique.

4. Ritualization.
Because time is so precious, spending it wisely is the key. Committing to doing something relatively rote as part of your practice sessions every day at a certain time doesn’t require you to invest consciously, freeing up that part of your brain to develop other skills. For example: a tennis player may spend 15 minutes a day stretching to remain limber. If he can stretch without having to think about it, he saves that mental energy for pursuing more advanced techniques.

5. Sticking to a Schedule.
If you’re serious about achieving mastery, you won’t slack off when you feel like it, but will remain dedicated to your pre-arranged practice sessions. Training to become a master takes uninterrupted concentration. Much like a regular job, you have to show up each day and give it your best shot.

6. Set Goals, and Rest After Achieving Them.
As part of your practice regimen, factor in regular intervals of rest that coincide with achieving major goals. No one is a machine; we all require periods of rejuvenation to ‘recharge our batteries.’ Scheduling time to rest lets you reflect on all the progress you’ve made—and spurs you on to achieve even more.

7. Seek Feedback and Criticism.
Part of what made Robert Oppenheimer great was not only his incredible understanding of physics, but his exposure to other scientific luminaries who gave him feedback on his work. While practice makes us better, criticism helps us refine our techniques and understand the flaws in our own work. Without it, we can become too introspective or obscure. Becoming a true master involves being able to converse with anyone in the world, and prove that you are not only knowledgeable, but that you have solutions or abilities no one else has. You can’t know how much farther you have to go until you compare yourself with others, but don’t expect them to give you the answers — that only comes with hard work.

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