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!