Develop Genius, Mastery, and Contribute Greatness

True joy in life resides in the
struggle for greatness
and the mastery of our
talents and gifts.

I’d like for us to begin a new series. A series in my opinion that focuses on the single most important reason that we’re all here in this lifetime.

To understand and utilize our own Innate Ability and Unique Genius.

To develop Mastery of ourselves and our craft.

To contribute our Greatness fully and completely to the world.

But what are these elusive terms mastery, genius, and greatness that we so infrequently hear used? How are they really defined? Are they measured by tangible means and results like so many believe?

I believe the answer to that final question is both yes, and no.

What’s in the DNA of an Einstein, a Yo Yo Ma, a Mozart, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso, Kobe Bryant, Robert Herjavac, Marc Cuban, and many other great achievers that appears to be so different than yours and mine?

You may ask, “James, are all these individuals in the same category of genius? Are you placing a Bryant and Herjavac in the same category as a Michelangelo and Picasso?

To which I answer “Yes.”

The only difference is their method and means of expression. We’ll discuss this in greater detail as time unfolds.

First and foremost I believe true greatness to be living your life in alignment with your Innate Ability and Unique Purpose. This is the first and most important step; and in the pursuit of genius… it absolutely must be primary.

Secondly, you must be committed to mastering the gifts you’ve been given; and then contributing them fully and completely to the world.

Now this obviously presupposes that you know what your innate abilities are, as well as your unique purpose.

Very few people do.

Our traditional schooling trains us in a sheep-dip-one-size-fits-all fashion, to be (hopefully) good at the cognitive and linguistic lines of development.

While obesity is rampant in our society, our traditional schools do absolutely nothing to even discuss nutrition; and physical education/P.E. is no longer even a requirement in most schools.

It’s as if there’s nothing of importance in our world except math, science and English. As if the full spectrum of life and experience either don’t exist or have no value.

Therefore, the athletes, the great artist, entrepreneur, innovator, environmentalist, spiritual seeker, and creative thinker are given little to no skills; and certainly no reinforcement for their innate abilities. With no skills and reinforcement, these innate abilities lay dormant, atrophy, and certainly are not developed.

Please, before you’re too quick to discount your own genius… push pause; back it up; and think again.

Howard Gardner from Harvard University unequivocally states that we’re all a potential genius in not only just one area… but possibly two. (reference Living a Meaningful Life).

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

~ Albert Einstein

Yet your unique genius must be first recognized; and then developed; and if your innate ability is not in math or science… you’re pretty much on your own.

Yet, please understand that innate ability and talent are not enough to reach a level that even begins to approach mastery. Please read that again. Just knowing your gift/s is not enough.

Mastery takes extreme focus and extreme sacrifice. Please don’t kid yourself or buy in to those who propagate a magic formula for instant success. More discussion on this moving forward.

There are certain qualities to greatness, or what we can term mastery. A quick look around, as well as a quick perusal of history, proves that very, very few ever achieve what would be called mastery of their lives or craft.

Genius is the structure upon which mastery is built;
and mastery leaves clues.

There are several practices, processes, strategies and characteristics of mastery that I’d like for us to explore in this series. If this is of interest to you, then lock in… for you’re in the right place at the right time; and your own personal genius patiently awaits.

Now, with genius as our foundation… it might behoove us (according to my style), to begin with a study of the etymology of the word genius.

Traced back to its origins, genius meant something akin to “from the Higher Self, Holy Guardian Angel, or Guardian Spirit.” The word genius contains the same root as genie, which many of the ancients believed to literally be a guardian that each of us had.

Originally one “had a genius” and only in the mid 1600’s was anyone actually thought to “be a genius.” The original Latin “gignere” translates as “to produce.” This concepts continues to live in our lore as the genie who produces the wishes.

So we must agree that our “genius” is first a gift; and if it’s a gift from our Higher Self or Holy Guardian Angel… then we could also say it’s a gift from God, Universal Intelligence or the Creative Source. What we’ll call your Innate Ability.

Secondly, it’s the ability “to produce” with this gift. This is a key concept which is fundamental to mastery.

Now the key distinction we must make is that it would be easy to assume that some are “gifted” and some are not.

However, this completely flies in the face of all logic.

For this randomness to be true, it would necessitate a situation where either some capricious Higher Power is doling out gifts to a select few; or at minimum a random chance driven situation where some are just plain lucky or others are not.

Yet, even our most modern scientific thinking shows that nothing in this Universe is random or chance driven. Nothing.

Our entire universe is not only self-aware but also self-organizing. Random and chance would never have developed you to the point of being able to even read this treatise right now… much less understand and contemplate.

All of us are gifted, albeit some gifts appear to be more valued in our current social paradigm than others. However, studies show that those who truly leverage their genius rarely buy in or give much attention to the current social paradigm. Please read that again.

This does not mean they are social rebels or problem makers (although some have been perceived and treated this way), they just tend to go about their work, knowing who they are; knowing why they’re here; and knowing what they choose to create and do irrespective of social recognition or reward.

Yes… some of them have received greatly in both areas of recognition and reward, but more often than not they really don’t care much about either.

In fact, when true mastery and genius is apparent, it’s the business of doing their business that is the only true reward they desire.

Stephen Jobs immediately comes to mind.

Jobs has now been deified as a cultural genius and hero. Interestingly enough, when he was alive a tremendous amount of people that knew him and worked for him did not like him; and that’s putting it mildly.

While they respected his creativity and drive, he was most often not well liked; and even kicked out of his own company in a hostile take-over.

This tends to be the case with genius. If not disliked, even hated, they are at minimum completely misunderstood. They just don’t fit the collective social mode; and frankly, if they did they would never have a chance to actualize their genius. Let that sink in please. Turn it over in your marvelous mind.

Even though I’ve said this before it bears repeating early in this series:

Genius and mastery is NOT grounded in trouble making or social disorder

In fact, genius and mastery is grounded in a solitude that has little time nor value for even paying attention to social norms. Not out of disrespect. More out of, “I have better and bigger things to think about and do.”

“The most successful people I’ve ever observed are
monomaniacs on a mission.”

~Peter Drucker

Genius has a deep need to focus all of their energy and attention on their calling and purpose. This will become clearer as time goes on, but it’s important for us to agree that anarchy is the furthest thing from the behavior of a true master genius. They are the quintessential “in the world not of the world type of person.”

I know it may seem that I’m belaboring the point… but it’s vitally important that we start on the same page with this topic and series. So many in our world grade their “success” by their popularity and/or their pay. Once again, while popularity and pay may be present… this is not the reason the master genius does what he does.

Let the doing of your work be your greatest reward.
Just for the doing of it for this is your love.

What we’re discussing here are personal values; and I encourage you to be honest with yourself about what you value most and why. There is no benefit whatsoever in lying to yourself.

The reason that the master genius, like Jobs, is more often than not disliked until after his death is that as a society we tend to dislike and fear, even hate that which we don’t understand. Often it makes us feel intimidated and frightened. At minimum it makes us uncomfortable.

“If people don’t hate you, you’re probably not doing very big things.”

~ Jay Z

Bottom line, if you have a deep seated need to “be loved and accepted,” which by the way is one of the 5 Primary Fears of the human species (reference How to Understand, Overcome and Utilize Fear); and you define this love by externals; other people’s behavior and opinion; and you cannot overcome it… your chances of achieving genius and greatness will be severely hampered if not entirely halted.

There’s another one to turn over and over again in your marvelous mind. Ponder deeply. Again, there’s no value whatsoever in lying to yourself.

No one who was normal ever made history. Never have. Never will.

In the upcoming editions we’ll fully explore mastery, genius and greatness and the additional qualities and characteristics that have been left as clues. In the meantime ask yourself these questions:

  • How committed am I to mastery of my life and craft?
  • How important is it to me?
  • What’s it worth to me?
  • Am I willing to measure my success and my life by my own standard versus the standards of society, money, and others opinions? Am I really?
  • Am I willing to pay the price for the prize?

And the journey continues…


Stay Awake, Love Life and Be Epic,

james arthur ray





Permission to re-post my personal articles is granted with acknowledgment of the author, James Arthur Ray and a link back to this website. Thanks and Enjoy!


8 Responses

  1. An interesting and refreshing blog James. My favorite artist, Vincent van Gogh, comes to mind. I don’t think he would ever have imagined the gifts he would leave the world, or the acclaim he would receive posthumously. I wonder if he ever knew the genius that he was, even if his brother did. I wonder if most of us know what lies inside us.

    There is much to ponder here. Much to ponder. Here and elsewhere. There’s been so much talk and thought and work towards the great “prosperity” of it all, the “rat race,” the paddling to keep our heads above water and roofs over our heads. I’d almost forgotten my true meaning and purpose in life – just trying to keep people loved and maintained, and warm and fed. It’s so easy to let it slip away – ourselves, our health, our work, our love – and so important to get it back, to stay on track.
    It seems to me (of course I could be wrong) that part of our human condition is the constant struggle to edge closer to Spirit, to our oneness with All, while always being pulled back into the drudgery of life, into the very sustenance of it all, to always keep moving back towards what we really are, to that genius you speak of. This is our challenge. We must remember always what Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.”(ref p. 44, The Science of Success, JAR)

    I think if we can remember that, and live it, and live in that Divine Light and Faith, then and only then are we succeeding. Because if we are living in doubt and fear, in stagnation or stasis, and the negative emotions that go with them, we are moving away from life and God, or rather, from what God (or the Universe) wants, which is growth, expansion, expression…genius, as it were. Even if that means stretching ourselves beyond our former scope of comfort. Even if it means moving beyond fear into the unknown, into things that may frighten, or pain, or stress us to the max. Without stress diamonds wouldn’t be formed, chicks wouldn’t break free of their shells to become swans, and seeds wouldn’t burst from the Earth to become trees.

    It would behoove us, then, I think, to awaken every day, and not to focus on what our worries are, or what we might have to do or face today, but rather, to focus on why we are here. What is our TRUE purpose? And what GOOD we can do for the world TODAY with whatever our particular genius may be? I think if we can answer this and go about our day LIVING IT (which will take much passion, energy, courage, discipline, and faith), THEN we will be successful, regardless of any material accomplishment or social recognition or lack of it. Then we will be in alignment with what we should be. And then everything else will unfold from there…just as it should.

    As always… Much thanks…and much love.

  2. This is a wonderful set of posts to end/begin the year and thank you James for coloring in the gray perfectly.

    What makes the difference for each of us?

    You must live for another if you wish to live for yourself. – Seneca

    Life yields only to the conqueror. Never accept what can be gained by giving in. You will be living off stolen goods, and your muscles will atrophy. – Dag Hammarskjold

    I live life on vacation in paradise. It does not occur that way for everyone and is annoys some people that believe I did not earn it but what do they know.

    The conventional ‘golden rule’ is to treat others how you wish to be treated. Even when practiced it is abuse, because it is completely wrong. Nobody wants to be treated how I want to be treated except me.

    Everyone wants to be treated how they want to be treated but most have ‘given in’ to normal behavior… YUK!

    Discovering how others want to be treated is mostly observation and very few questions. Along the way you may even discover what your gift is that puts you on vacation in paradise.

    Realizing when you have one really good hammer, everything appears to be a nail worth pounding, requires a level of discernment that can only come after many experiments. Figuring out which ones worked and what they were before you pounded them into the ground may take a long time and annoy many along the way. Perhaps the complainers must all disappear too before you are recognized.

  3. I have a couple of favorite quotes that you referenced here. One is “Well Behaved Women Never Make History” and the other is from Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing every day that scares you!” I think both of them say that you have to step out of the norm and take the chances to be the magnificent person that you are meant to be. And so many people don’t do that. I believe that we all have that magnificence but very few are willing to risk all.
    I went through so much in the last year that I feel I have no choice but to risk all. I am often scared to move forward or intimidated by the chance of failure. But when I look at the big picture, what do I have to lose? I have seen the bottom (or at least I hope I have) and being there has inspired me to do so much better. I still struggle with myself to be my best self but I am making improvements and will keep striving to do so. I KNOW I have talents that could be valuable to share with the world. I just have to keep getting past that fear and self doubt. This is where I believe you will help me, James. Thank you so much for you daily inspiration and the things you share with us. They truly help me on my journey to be my best self!

    1. Nancy,

      We’re all scared! True courage is not being fearless (that’s a crock) true courage is moving forward using the fear as fuel. I’m there with you babe. Keep moving forward one step at a time… no matter what! Much love ~ JAR

  4. This is fascinating and I look forward to the series. Slash, the guitar player for Guns and Roses is one of the best in the world. He picked up a guitar as a youngster and played it everyday. Every day his fingers bled, but he couldn’t put it down. He knew this was his calling – his passion, and he couldn’t and didn’t stop. He is known now as a guitar genius. I agree, we have one or two ‘genius genes’ we were given, but so many waste it. I tend to pick up/befriend the odd balls in society, they are fantastic, interesting, geniuses – creative wonders who no one takes the time to get to know. I like to think of myself as one too. 🙂

    1. You are one Ali! We all are it just depends if we’re willing to pay the price for the prize. I love Slash by the way. Thanks for being here. ~ JAR

  5. I have no problem with popularity and my activities, the one I need to balance is payment, sometimes I just love so much what I do or why I am doing it that I left payment aside. Big mistake, but well I am still learning and as you say I don’t care any more what the others say, as long as I feel inside of me that I am doing my best at what I like to do, and in the process I know I am helping others as well.

    I guess I need to keep going and looking for the balance of the universe in this situation as well.

    Thank you James, for all these wonderful lessons.

  6. Perfect timing! I so needed this reminder. Always been “weird” always will be and I’ve struggled with it my whole life, feeling like I don’t belong and/or being rejected for it. After reading your post it reminds me that it isn’t about me, it is about what the Universe is needing to express in this world through me for expansion and awareness. Thank you so much James!

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