Posted by: Dr Churchill | May 24, 2014

From Intelligence to Genius in 3 long winding and difficult steps

Now if you think You are smart — that is good.

A Good Start…

And if you think you can be the smartest person in the room that’s fine too.

A better start…

But if you want to distinguish yourself above and beyond all else in your chosen field of work — then go for broke and become a GENIUS.

Unless you already are one.

That would be the greatest start…

You might be laughing by now — but that is neither a sign of intelligence, nor a good estimation of your capabilities, and further more constitutes a serious breach of protocol by showing a deep lack of respect for your necktop computer…

So wipe that smirk off your face right now, because truly you can only become a genius if you believe that.

The first rule to emerge from all the recent and latest brain research on how intelligence can be moved to genius levels — points to the creative practice of the Genius habits.

It’s an age old pattern of cultivation of the emergent pathways of greater intelligence through positive thinking, constant practice, and beneficial friends keeping skilful company.

All in three Simple Steps. Not easy, short, or effortless — far from it — yet doable long term steps:

STEP ONE — Perfect the Little Things: First step is to cultivate a way of doing things at genius level all the time, every day, every moment, for even the simplest of tasks. Kind of like blending the practice of mindfulness with the pursuit of excellence…     

Gandhi said to always do this simple thing:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts.”

“Your thoughts become your actions.”

“Your actions become your habits.”

“Your habits become your destiny.”

So, the first rule to emerge from the research on intelligence to genius is to cultivate, a way of doing things, at genius level, all the time, every day, for even the simplest task. You will never get to genius level just by gritting your teeth and working harder than anyone else. Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. The wrong practice makes permanent error. Bad habits ensue…

You have to realize that there is no limit to excellence in even the simplest task. Every time you do even the tiniest things, you are shaping what you will be in the future. Better do them right. After all, we all do little tasks most of the time. Consequently, little tasks are where we do most of our learning. The way we do them, becomes our action toolbox, our habitual way of doing. And it sticks with us for a rather long time…

Our action toolbox is the way we see, feel, think, talk, and act. Whenever we try to do something great, it’s the only toolbox we have. Failing to understand this principle is the basic reason why the vast majority of people never achieve their potential.

To use this everyday toolbox and to behave in the improved way necessary to accomplish great things is next to impossible, because the habitual way we do little things determines the way we try to do big things. Don’t take short cuts but strive for excellence always and in all things. Simplicity rules here but the understanding of complexity is also a way to reach excellence. Someone who has just learned to play the scales on the piano cannot use that toolbox to play a Beethoven concerto. Not going to happen … yet the way to becoming Genius at piano is to perfect those notes, the posture, the mindset, the playing, the intensity, the rhythm, the tempo — all of it.

STEP  TWO — Find a Mentor: Second step is to find and cultivate beneficial friends, mentors, and geniuses for keeping skilful company.

Like Picasso, you have to practice genius relentlessly. But, how do you know what to practice? How do you learn to build a genius way of life? Look it up on the Internet? I hope not. The internet has no control of fact or fiction. Your brain is a fertile garden. It will grow whatever you allow into its soil – flowers or weeds. As language expert Mark Pagel says, “The internet provides the perfect vehicle to teach humanity infinite stupidity”.

You have to learn the thread of genius from a mentor. Life is too precious to waste without one. I was privileged to know violinist Yehudi Menuhin who died in 1999. He began playing at age three and presented his first solo performance at age seven with the San Francisco Symphony. But, under a series of less than stellar teachers, he remained pretty much unknown for the next 21 years. Then, in 1947, at age 28, Menuhin became the first Jewish violinist to play in Germany after World War II. He got a lot of publicity but was not considered a genius.

The publicity, however, did open doors. Five years later Menuhin began the study of yoga and meditation directly under the great guru BKS Iyengar. His music then improved dramatically to genius level over the next decade, when Menuhin was in his forties. He called Iyengar, “My best violin teacher”, though the yogi never played any musical instruments. []

Numerous studies show that almost all elite achievers have at least one crucial mentor. In 1996, Rena Subotnik, of the American Center for Gifted Education began to compare music students at New York’s Julliard School against winners of the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. She has found that most Juilliard students succeed in becoming elite because of their one-to-one relationships with expert mentors who prepare them for the flowering of genius.(7)

Julliard teachers are almost all continuing a talented lineage of descent from earlier generations of their own music mentors. The knowledge is passed down from genius to genius to genius.

In contrast, most of the Westinghouse Science prize winners went on to college where they failed to find the right mentors to guide them to greatness. Very few graduated with distinction.

I explain to my students that the thread of genius does not exist on the internet, nor in books, nor in college degrees. It exists only in a long-term, one-to-one relationship with an expert mentor that slowly teaches you to recognize the way of excellence.

So go ahead and choose your mentor carefully because the thread of genius is spun exceeding fine. It has been so throughout history. Much of Western political and ethical thought today for example, came from a very few ancient Greeks. Socrates was the mentor of Plato, who then became the mentor of Aristotle. Aristotle consolidated their worldview in 170 books in his short 62-year lifetime.

Aristotle also became the mentor of Alexander the young son of the Macedonian king Philip II. Under Aristotle’s mentoring he would grow to become Alexander the Great and build the largest kingdom in the world, before or since.(8)

History is replete with such lineages of genius. As Isaac Newton said of Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus and Halley, “If I have seen farther it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Walk with giants. Link arms with people much greater than yourself and you will become greater. In your quest for mastery, you must find your mentor, then follow their advice relentlessly. Allow your brain only the best of knowledge and your mind will expand beyond your wildest dreams.

STEP THREE: Set Long-term Goals: The third step is that of time: One must invest and commit to long term goals & constant bettering and challenging practice, in order to reach the genius level. 

I told my student that genius is not born in structures of the brain. Nor is it a performance of some cleverly learned but isolated skill. Genius is a life habit that slowly grows your brain over a long period of repeatedly doing all the little things better, and better, each and every day. A process of mindfulness and excellence built in the HERE & NOW.

Not surprising then that the third principle shared by most geniuses is to set and relentlessly pursue long-term goals. Just like mastery of the piano, learning to do small things the right way, takes a long time. Think about it. On average it takes near ten years just to learn to read. []
Studies of elite physical and mental performance confirm “the Decade Rule”.(1-3) That is, you have to put in at least a decade of the right training to approach mastery in any field. That’s about 20 hours training each week for ten years. You have to create a clear and single direction and goal throughout that time and work steadily towards it.

Over more than 20 years of working with technology, mobile, biotech, molecular biology, nano, internet, and telecommunications startups, and sharing my ideas with aspiring entrepreneurs, mentoring infopreneurs, scientists, tech geeks, coders, politicians, bankers, financiers, and regular folk, I’ve found that the “Decade Rule” certainly applies to all of us in every circumstance. Those “overnight successes” are ten to twelve years in the making, is what my friend Steve Jobs used to say every time we sold a tech startup company.  This is the same reality as the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell posits.

In my book, “Brain Software” we are also talking about this and the practice of “refreshing your mind” or changing your operating system yet that is a quicker process and highly technical but fraught with danger unless you are already set for absorbing great truths and changing drastically, and dramatically your Life. If that’s what you want, read the book here:

On the path to genius, of course, it helps a little, if you are born with great talent — but only a little. Putting in the time in the right training is still essential to achieve excellence. And for fundamental The best concert pianists take about 15 years of training to earn international recognition. Top sculptors, mathematicians and biochemists put in similar amounts of training time.(1-3)

A representative example of the “Decade Rule” is the study of 120 elite athletes, artists, biochemists and mathematicians led by University of Chicago psychologist Benjamin Bloom.(2) He found that every single subject had put in more than a decade of consistent training before achieving recognition.

Very likely you have the seeds of genius within you, no matter what age you are now. If you want to improve your brain, and with it every aspect of your existence, begin today by doing every little thing at genius level. Arrange your flowers just so. Design your Goals, short and long term. Design and decorate your dwelling, your adobe, your office, and even your cubicle in an excellent way. Design the things that make up your Life. Thus You begin to build your toolbox of genius. Further discover how to do this by choosing an expert mentor in the field you want to study. And set long-term goals. There is no more important task in your life.

I promise you one thing: If you do these above things consistently — You will meet with immeasurable Success. Because within a decade, you will begin to think, act, and perform like a genius. Others will perceive you as Genius too, and will seek to follow you and support you — thus you’ll get independent validation of your achievement. And the positive reinforcements will create a virtuous cycle of ever greater success.

Goodluck and Godspeed — Enjoy the fruits of your labours — Live long and prosper — All Your Dreams are within reach…





The three steps to becoming an extraordinary genius are validated by research and as seen in practice by most Great Teachers, Brain Science professors, Extraordinary brainiacs, Mind Doctors, neuropsychologists, neurophysiologists, intelligence professionals, and brain experts.

Most geniuses are made — not born.(1-3) []

In 2000, Eric Kandel of Columbia University, shared the Nobel Prize with Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greenspan for their discoveries of the neural basis of learning. The work shows that the number and strength of nerve connections that process elite skills increase in proportion to how often and how proficiently lessons are repeated.(4)

Michael Merzenich at UC San Francisco, and Rusty Gage at the Salk Institute in San Diego, are prominent among many researchers who have now shown that this ability to grow new cells and new connections in the brain does not cease with adulthood. Given the right stimulation, it can continue lifelong. Even better, emerging evidence shows that stimulating new brain growth inhibits aging.(5,6) This work is the focus of my brain program.

From the recent research, it is likely that the right focused study and practice can literally grow the neural networks of genius. Remember that you cannot even blink an eye without a message from your brain. How well and what your brain learns determine every thought you have, every movement you make. Genetics may allow one person to build the connections faster than another, but the lessons can be learned by almost anyone.

It is perfectly possible to grow very, very smart — a veritable genius — in order to become a master in almost any field. You don’t have to start as an infant either. Picasso was not recognized at all until he was in his twenties. Reviewers agree that it then took him another 30 years of relentless practice and mentoring in the rich French impressionist, surrealist, and cubist eras of the time to build his genius. He did not demonstrate it until he was in his fifties, with masterpieces like Guernica. Three essential principles converged to bring it about.(1-3)


1. M. van Lieshout & P.G. Heymans (Eds.) Developing Talent Across the Lifespan. Hove, UK: Psychology Press, 2000.
2. B.S. Bloom (Ed.). Developing talent in young people New York: Ballentine, 1985.
3. Nathan C. A journey in science: promise, purpose, privilege. Mol Med. 2013 Oct 3;19(1):305-13. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2013.00063.
4. Kandell ER. In Search of Memory. New York: WW Norton, 2006.
5. Nahum M1, Lee H, Merzenich MM. Principles of neuroplasticity-based rehabilitation. Prog Brain Res. 2013;207:141-71. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63327-9.00009-6.
6. Lacar B, Parylak SL, Vadodaria KC, Sarkar A, Gage FH. Increasing the resolution of the adult neurogenesis picture. F1000Prime Rep. 2014 Feb 3;6:8. eCollection 2014.
7. Subotnik, R.F. The Julliard model for developing young adolescent performers: An educational prototype. In C.F. M. van Lieshout & P.G. Heymans (Eds.) Developing talent across the lifespan. Hove, UK: Psychology Press, 2000, 249-276.
8. “Alexander the Great.” Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 137-141.


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