The genius of courage
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”
– John F. Kennedy
I’ve been quite caught up with an article from famed neuroscientist Nancy C. Andreasen entitled, “Secrets of the Creative Brain.” It is a lead story in a special edition of The Atlantic – “How Genius Happens.” For those of you who are interested in growing your creativity and developing greater understanding in how it works, I strongly recommend picking up a copy.
There is only one element missing from these stories and that is the fact that none of the geniuses would have made their remarkable contributions to our world without taking action. Virtually all of them began by acting on a vision, mission and purpose well before the accolades and support.
Perhaps the most important ingredient in genius is courage.
I recently attended a conference for business owners. Over a hundred participants from all over America paid a tidy sum of money to attend. Few of these individuals were overtly sophisticated or displayed what academics would call “genius.” I was quite moved with how down to earth the participants were. But, these hard working owners generate millions in revenue every year by taking action. Virtually every discussion was centered on immediate action. I thought of all the highly educated and polished indivdiuals I know who struggle with taking continuous right action.
Creativity in its most basic form is action incarnate. None of us would be here if two people didn’t get together and take action.
In 1916, Lewis Terman from Stanford University developed America’s first IQ test. Over the next three decades, he recruited thousands of students to participate in his study. They represented 1% of the smartest kids in our schools with an IQ of 135 or higher. For years, Terman regularly reevaluated each individual student. One of the conclusions of this study was that high IQs have little to do with creativity. Most became adults with successful marriages, careers and families. But few stood out as contributors to our culture.
Groundbreaking change doesn’t happen in our heads. It occurs after we take the action to fulfill our vision. And, right action isn’t just any action, it is right action. For example, I worked with a number of counselors in the metaphysical world. When they needed business, they usually responded with more prayer and meditation. At one point, I brought up the idea that perhaps spriituality could include taking a sales course and picking up the phone.
In the early 80’s one of my friends asked me to dinner to discuss her career. Her name is Peggy Albrecht and at the time she was an ambivalent administrator. I was managing a staffing operation in Los Angeles.
I asked her, “What do you most love in life?”
She responded, “I love helping women become sober.”
“There’s your answer.”
She became the Director of Friendly House, a recovery center for women who don’t have the resources to go to a luxury destination in Malibu. During the last thirty years, Peggy has helped thousands of women develop sober and meaningful lives. Every time I encounter Peggy, she radiates greater happiness than the year before. She is literally surrounded by thousands of women who live because of her teams remarkable efforts.
I am always struck by the many people who walk in the doors of our programs and swear there could be an answer for others but not for them.
Because literally, the answer is always right there in front of us. Always.
There is more genius in courage than IQ. I believe real brilliance often begins in the most humble of circumstances but it grows and shines through day to day action and courage.
In the Joy of Living Dangerously, the philosopher Osho shares,
“The word courage is very interesting. It comes from a Latin root cor, which means ‘heart’. So to be courageous means to live with heart. And weaklings, only weaklings, live with the head; afraid they create a security of logic around themselves. Fearful, they close every window and door – with theology, concepts, words, theories – and inside those closed doors and windows, they hide.”
Life is short.
You are growing every day.
Walk into the light with courage.
All the best