I read a Sam Ovens email recently that began with this question: What makes somebody a genius?
What are the constituent parts? The source materials? The causal chain?
Most people think genius happens in isolation. However, evidence proves that “lone geniuses” are exceedingly rare. Genius comes from connection.
A man named Dean Simonton scoured biographical dictionaries for mentions of relationships among 2,026 scientists and 772 artists. Once he collected the data, he started mapping the relationships between them to form a “social network graph” of all the world’s most famous geniuses.
What he found was fascinating. Consistent patterns appeared in the social networks of geniuses.
They all had these things in common: Idols, Mentors, Rivals, Collaborators, Associates, Admirers, and Friends.
Check out this diagram of Sir Isaac Newton’s social network.
Consistent patterns appeared in the social networks of geniuses. They all had these things in common: Idols, Mentors, Rivals, Collaborators, Associates, Admirers, and Friends.
But not all inputs are equal. Geniuses were careful to structure their social networks with only the most talented, smartest, obsessed people. They had no space for negative people who complained.
As the saying goes: “Garbage in garbage out.” Or in this case: “Genius in genius out.” All outputs derive from inputs, your mind is what it eats.
So, what can we learn from this?
The lesson here is to map your own personal social network. Who are your idols, your mentors, your friends, your rivals, collaborators, associates?
Choose them wisely, as their quality will reflect in the quality of your life. Life is too short to spend hanging out with people who complain.
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