How to discover brilliant people

It turns out that there are a few different ways to see the world and none of them are right or wrong. They’re just different. I think by now Steve Jobs has proved this enough times.

Some people see the world as a flurry of words, others are musical and hear the world as melodies and riffs whilst others are logical and interpret the world around them in numbers or equations. Some write lines of code and create their masterpieces that way whilst others pore over archives of information to find the inconsistencies and solve a big case.

Whatever the field and medium is, we all have our different ways to express ourselves. Just like the differing learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic), we all have a preferred communication and demonstration style.

It bothers me when someone who has a limited world view and a fixed belief of what ‘creativity’ is/should be and feels the need to enforce that upon others. Is a singer/songwriter more creative and talented than a heart surgeon? Of course not.

It might take you three years and one thousand hours in lessons to write your first song while that guy over there does it first time around in fifteen minutes.

Alternatively, you might just pick up a football and kick it perfectly first time while your guitar friend has to train and practice to be half as good as you naturally are.

Does this mean he shouldn’t be allowed to play guitar and you shouldn’t be allowed to kick a football? Of course not, that’s ridiculous you say! In fact you’d be encouraged to keep doing what you’re good at – whether you enjoy it or not – but that’s a discussion for another day!

When you ask something of someone, particularly when the circumstances call for them to communicate with you in their own way in order for you to understand their abilities, talents and methodologies, why limit them?

Imagine asking Sebastian Vettel (the F1 World Champion) to explain driving a formula 1 car to you in 25 words or less. He drives cars, he doesn’t write. Let him show you how he does it his way.

Imagine asking Travis Barker (drummer of Blink 182) to explain how to play the drums in a 5 minute pitch/speech. He plays the drums, he doesn’t give talks. Let him show you how he does it his way.

Imagine asking James Cameron (director Titanic and Avatar) to limit his ideas to 100 words. He produces films, he doesn’t limit his words. Let him show you how he does it his way.

Imagine asking Oprah Winfrey (if you don’t know her, you’re living under a rock) to explain how she feels on a subject in a nice essay. She lives by her ability to talk in the moment, she doesn’t communicate her emotion by being pre-meditated. Let her show you how she does it her way.

It’s easy to think rationally about these people because they have shown you already. What about those who haven’t? Are you just as rational? Brilliance doesn’t live in a box.

Imagine how outraged you’d feel if someone asked you to amaze them with your abilities and talents but to keep it within their limited framework and scope of how they see the world.

“You’re an amazing chef? Wow, I’d like you to prove that to me by riding this bicycle!”


Yeah, I’d be pulling the same face you are right now. This is why the education system is broken.

To be amazed and truly learn from others, you need to allow them to invest their time, energy and resources at their own discretion. It’s not your call. I can’t emphasise this point enough. Just because you can’t see the point/effort doesn’t mean others won’t. Just because you can’t do it or it seems hard to you doesn’t mean others won’t blow you away standing on one leg.

If you truly want the chance to show the world what you can do, it’s imperative that you enable and empower others to play and show you what they can do. Yes, you are brilliant in your own way but so are they.

4 thoughts on “How to discover brilliant people

  1. Lovely post.

    I see this a great deal, especially in the U.S. (my adopted land, as is yours) where “think different” is a cool ad slogan but actually scares the bejesus out of people if they can’t figure you out, and if you don’t think or act as they do.

    I’m a writer by trade, but extremely visual and have found I learn best by doing (which makes journalism, in that respect) a good fit for me. But because I really dislike sitting a classroom for hours listening, I have no graduate degree which makes some people assume I am lazy or stupid because that’s the official credential of the ambitious. Hate that.


    1. Thanks for the reply 🙂

      I’m currently sitting here in San Francisco trying to work out my next step with Visas. Like you, I never went to college and despite my history and experience the powers that be feel that I must be a dribbling idiot who doesn’t know left from right thus rendering me ineligible for some of them.

      It’s sad it is considered that the institutionalised education is considered the only valid means of information and skills transfer to the masses.

      Be bold and resolute. You don’t need a college degree to be brilliant. 😉

      Just take it from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Coco Chanel, Simon Cowell, Michael Dell, Walt Disney, Henry Ford, Milton Hershey, Frank Lloyd Wright, Abraham Lincoln, David Ogily….the list goes on!


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