|Genius||Writings index Home|
"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
In any activity, whether it is mental or physical or some combination, different people have different levels of ability and they also put in different amounts of effort.
It's the combination that produces results.
Inferior ability plus more work can produce the same or better results as superior ability plus less work. But if the "genius" puts in more effort, then, starting from a higher base, he will surpass the competitor of lesser ability just about every time.
Take for example, violinists. There are lots of very good violinists, performing in orchestras or in small concert venues. But there are only a dozen or fewer "names" of the top, top performers, and they are sometimes described as geniuses (Paganini, Heifetz, Perlman, and Stern, to name four). They have an easier time to play the violin than the other 99.9999% of the population, and even without a lot of effort they could do a good performance. But to elevate themselves to the peak, for those spectacular performances for which they are renowned, you can be sure they also put in hours and hours of practice time on a daily basis!
Or tennis players. Roger Federer no doubt has great innate ability at tennis, and even without any effort he could beat just about everyone. But, if he wants to win a Grand Slam tournament, where he has to play others who are almost as good as he is (or now, better), he better be out there on the practice court day after day.
The same sort of thing applies to scientists, writers, mathematicians, musical composers, and others engaged in mental activity. They can do the easy stuff hardly lifting a finger. But if they want to do high level things, like proving Fermat's Last Theorem, then they are in for a lot of work, just like everyone else. Wiles worked on that for, literally, years, and built on the work of others, before he finally "got it".
When their work is complete and all wrapped up, it looks like it wasn't much effort. We don't get to see their waste basket filled with failed attempts, do we ?
I guess that's one definition of "genius": he makes what he does look easy, as if anyone at all could do it, seemingly without effort.