Everyone has genius within. You simply need the keys to unlock it. In this book, we will explore the Keys to unlocking genius. This may be your own genius, the genius within your children, students, employees and co-workers, and anyone with whom you have influence. Unlocking your personal genius, and gaining the perspective to see the genius in others will unlock opportunities, open doors (literally and metaphorically), enrich relationships, and empower you to accomplish your purpose.
The Latin root of the word education means "to draw out". The Latin word genius means to bring forth, inborn nature, incarnation. The root word, in Ancient Greek is shared with genesis, which means origin and creation. In Ancient Rome, it was believed that everyone was born with a divine or transcendent nature that needed to be expressed so that full potential could be reached. When I refer to unlocking genius, I am referring to discovering and igniting that spark within each of us that gives us purpose and fulfillment in life.
Genius wants to be unlocked, but you need a set of keys. As an educator for over 30 years and a parent for almost as long, I have had the joy of watching genius spark in many students. I have taught every age, from toddlers to adults, even training professional educators. I love teaching, because it allows me to engage in lifelong learning, always presenting a new challenge. Throughout this book, I will share stories of success and failure that I have experienced or witnessed along my own journey, culminated in 10 keys that I want to share with the world. Join me and explore the keys that unlock genius.
Staring with Why is the essential first step. No matter how much self-control or discipline you think you have, if you do not have a vision of your purpose or a point in what you are doing or learning, it will at best be done on a surface level. This chapter explores why it is essential to have a why. It will also help you solve the clues to your own why, the why of your children, students, spouse, partner, friends, so that you better understand yourself and those with whom you most closely associate. As Stephen Covey points out, one must "begin with the end in mind". As countless self-help programs proclaim, one must first have a vision, a reason for taking action, or it will be fleeting. Unlocking your personal Why is the first key to unlocking your genius.
Once you have your WHY, your long term goal, you need a roadmap to get there. This is a long journey, a lifelong journey, with obstacles along the way. If you create your map early, and reference it frequently, you will get there. This key explores breaking down your why, your purpose, your larger goals into manageable steps. It explores anticipating obstacles and planning ways to overcome them, before they become overwhelming. This key unlocks knowledge of the stages of cognitive and psychosocial development, learning and life phases, and the common obstacles we all face, so that you can optimize your learning and your life during these various stages and phases of life. For everything there is a season, and responding to rather than working against the seasons of life are key to unlocking genius throughout life, in just the right ways, at just the right times.
Creating the Story is about taking control of the story that is your life, changing the story if it is not what you want it to be, and playing the role of the hero. Once you have a vision of your purpose and at least a basic map, you are ready to take control of the story that makes up your life. We will explore the power of stories and the role they play in learning, including why we respond so strongly to stories and retain more information and learn more deeply when it is connected to stories. This key will unlock your ability to become the protagonist in your life story, rather than a passive participant, empowering you to create and change your story as needed, throughout your life.
Mastering Mindset is about developing the mindset needed to uncover but especially to act upon genius. We will explore the ideas of a growth mindset, and view both success and failure as learning opportunities. We will explore how to develop grit and not only get back up when we fall, but get up stronger and wiser. We will even explore mastering our subconscious thoughts and positively responding to negative self-talk and overcoming self-limiting beliefs. Keys 1-3 unlock many tools to accessing your genius, but you must also believe, both consciously and subconsciously, that you are a genius and that you can accomplish anything you truly want and need to accomplish.
Learning How to Learn combines ideas about neurology and meta-cognition with practical and implementable best practices in learning. This Key focuses on practical tools, concrete practices, and the reasons they work to enable you to manage your time, structure your days, achieve your goals, and simply learn faster and retain more. And if you are also reading this for your children, you will be giving them a big head start by giving them these tools early in life to use in school, career, and into their adult life.
Nurturing Genius tackles the many ways in which we can grow our creativity, our innovation, and our initiative, so that our personal genius can flourish. Once you uncover your genius, set goals aligned to your personal purpose, map out the path to reach your goals, face the future with a positive mindset, and acquire some practical tools for learning, you still need to continually nurture your ability to think, problem-solve, overcome obstacles, and often come up with creative, alternative ways to reach goals. Genius has no end. Each goal achieved opens a path to a higher goal, taking you to your full potential and life purpose. When you stretch your genius, you uncover new purposes and new ways in which to use your genius that never occurred to you before (or for which you were not previously ready to pursue).
Nourishing the Brain is a jump to our physical health and physical environment and the impact on the brain's ability to learn and to face challenges. All the good intentions in the world cannot overcome a brain that is starving for the right nutrients or sleep or struggling to solve an emotional or psychological obstacle. This chapter will explore the brain's physiological needs to optimize your ability to learn, including the impact of food, sleep, stress, and exercise on your ability to learn and to retain learning. This key will ensure your brain is ready, at optimal physical health when learning opportunities arise along your path.
Cultivating the Culture includes a close evaluation of the physical environment, social environment, and the practice of learned beliefs. We often think of culture as something we are inside as passive participants. This Key is titled cultivating culture, because each of us can cultivate a culture that unlocks our genius, regardless of our origin point. Each parent and teacher can cultivate a culture in which your children or students can unlock their genius. This key will enable you to put the pieces into place that cultivate the best culture for unlocking your genius, thus facilitating lifelong maintenance of all the keys.
Exploring Dark Caves explains the benefits and opportunities that appear when we willingly face our fears and take on new challenges. This chapter reveals the benefits, both psychologically and neurologically, of willingly and purposefully facing fears and challenges. Unlocking genius means never becoming complacent. It is a lifelong journey, and to keep it going, we must explore new, challenging, and sometimes scary endeavors.
After you have unlocked your genius, once, you must continue as a lifelong learner to keep all those doors unlocked and to fulfill your full potential. The key to being a lifelong learner is having eyes that see. We must be able to see the genius in others, all others, and throughout this glorious world. The genius of flowers that grow amid destruction. The genius locked within someone who cannot see any genius within themselves. We must continually learn from others and from the world, even when others or the world appear to have little to offer to us. If we develop eyes that see genius, we will forever be learning and growing our own genius.
Use in any order. Dive deeper into whichever key resonates for you or needs a little tuning up.
Not sure where to start? After reading Unlocking Genius, close the book and name the 10 Keys from memory. Whichever keys you forget are a good place to start!