Apply Albert Einstein’s Visionary Genius to Your Own Life

Apply Albert Einstein’s Visionary Genius to Your Own Life

More than anyone else, Albert Einstein is the official poster boy for genius. When I ask people for names they associate with the idea of genius, Einstein was always in the top ten, and is usually the ­first.

I’m sure your response is very similar. But how much do you know about what Einstein actually did?

You’ve heard about his theories of relativity, and you’ve probably seen his famous equation, E=mc2. But if you’re like most people, that’s about as far as your knowledge of Einstein actually goes. So right now, let’s take a look at some of Einstein’s major discoveries. At the same time, let’s see how they can translate into applications in your everyday life. Let’s see how you can connect with Einstein as a model of visionary genius, and use that model to reveal the visionary genius in yourself.

Einstein was born in 1879, in southern Germany. There are lots of true and unusual stories attributed to him. There are also many myths and misconceptions about him. You may have heard, for example, that Einstein, this great mathematical genius, flunked his math classes in grade school. It’s not true that he flunked his classes. Many of his strict and disciplinary teachers were simply too boring to tolerate, so he preferred walks in nature to dull lectures. He still managed to pass all their tests. Even in college he borrowed a friend’s notes rather than go to class. So while

it’s not true that he ever flunked, he passed using some unconventional methods. His teachers did not appreciate this creativity. Years after graduating, Albert discovered the cost for that uniqueness. A bad recommendation from his advisor delayed his admission to graduate school.

You may also have heard that Einstein didn’t learn to speak until he was much older than the average child. This is true. Einstein didn’t speak until he was nearly three years old. Of course, it’s always possible that he knew how to speak but didn’t feel he had anything worth saying – and least not yet.

Einstein didn’t sweat the small stuff! There’s a story about Einstein when he was on the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey. This was and still is the highest-powered and most prestigious intellectual environment in the world. One day Einstein was walking through the leafy streets near his home, and he encountered a fellow scholar. The two men chatted for a while, but as they were about to go their separate ways, Einstein had a ­nal question: “When we met a moment ago, was I walking toward my house, or away from it?”

Einstein’s colleague was a little puzzled by this question, but he replied that in fact the great scientist had been walking away from his house. And Einstein seemed pleased to hear this. “That’s good,” he said. “It means I’ve already had my lunch.”

You see, Einstein liked to think big. Or maybe it was more than just liking it. Thinking big came naturally to him. This was a man who could map the distance across the universe on the back of a napkin with a pencil – things like lunch were trivial compared to that!

In 1905, Einstein proved his theory of special relativity at age 26. Einstein’s thought processes just kept widening our focus. He went from the special theory of relativity to the general theory. He kept thinking bigger and bigger, and he didn’t let too many things get in his way. He once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

He also said, “If the facts don’t ­t the theory, change the facts.”

Let’s think about that for a moment. Let’s acknowledge that it takes a very good theory and a lot of nerve to say something like that. But let’s also realize that when

Albert Einstein talks about not bothering about the facts, it’s different than you or I not bothering to notice stop signs or red lights. In other words, the essence of visionary genius is that it’s visionary. It’s imaginative and creative, which has great value in its own right. Thinking big like a visionary genius is a great thing to do, even if you don’t come up with a practical application for your thoughts.

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