Growing up, I’ve always read stories about people I found to be inspiring. Richard Feynman, one of my heroes, is widely known as one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century. Nobel Prize winner and award winning lecturer, he has profoundly changed my view of physics and even how I approach problem solving as a whole. Himself, along with many of my other heroes including the likes of Einstein have taught me some very important lessons. The first, is that complexity, when explained in complex terms is a good indicator that the teacher doesn’t understand the topic well. The second, is that passion is the engine behind their success – not genius. You see, genius implies that the answers fall onto their laps. Furthermore, the internet has given me insight that intelligence is not as rare as it may have seemed in the past. Over the course of my life, I’ve met a large number of very smart people – all of which are capable of the success my heroes have come to achieve. The reality of the matter is, success comes from a mix of things – one of them being passion, the other being hard work.
Hard work is so named, because it involves difficulty. Difficulty sitting down and working through something, difficulty when it comes to the actual problems you’re trying to solve, and difficulty trudging on when you just want to give up. Passion is the grease that eases this process. It allows driven, intelligent people the ability to surmount these difficulties – which I found is ultimately what get’s them to their goals. No matter how smart you think you are, there will always be problems that kick your ass.
I have never, in reading the biographies of these great people, seen the personification of ‘genius’ that matches up with what mass media or fiction portrays. Someone who just has this ‘apriori’ power of knowledge and intellectual divinity. They not only worked hard, they loved what they did.
Feynman had a love of the world, the likes of which I have never experienced before. Everything, from the tiny movements of particles to the complexities of quantum electrodynamics fascinated him. This core fascination was the fuel that powered his world-class achievements. In fact, every time I read about one of my heroes, I found this trait to be common factor.
Einstein, for example, just wanted to know how the world works (as do most physicists). They give the illusion of ‘genius’ because they’re always appeared so happy as they navigated difficult problems. They were happy, not because they knew the answers, but because they enjoyed the journey so much. It wasn’t work to them, it was discovery.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the aforementioned individuals were exceptional in almost every way. Their drive, love, and dedication towards their goals is what made them a ‘real world’ genius. Instead of waiting for someone to make leeway, they took it upon themselves to walk up to the plate.
It’s so important, today more than ever, to remember to find your passion. Technology has made it more difficult for my generation to focus on a goal and work hard to achieve it. It offers a slew of distractions, distractions that are so easily brought into every one of our lives. If you don’t love what you do, distractions will almost certainly keep you from achieving success. Personally, programming is my gateway to creativity and engineering. It offers me a medium to mix together all of my other passions in a way that I couldn’t have otherwise – which is what I find fascinating.
I know my thesis is contrary to what most people believe, but don’t settle for something you force yourself to enjoy – find something you fall into. I see so many people every single day that live a life because they feel they have to. You truly don’t have to – you are the sum of your actions. If you take no actions towards a goal, you’re sum total is 0. Find your passion, and stick with it – no matter what it is. If you need more motivation, I’ll close with one of my favourite speakers, Sir Ken Robinson.
Cheers and good luck.