Not all geniuses make it onto the front page.
There are plenty of concealed geniuses out there who prefer not to seek attention and praise.
Are you one of them?
1) You tackle problems from a different angle
The hidden genius often remains unrecognized by society for years and sometimes even their whole life.
It’s hard to count the number of historical figures who only became famous and well-respected after their deaths, from artists to scientists, religious pioneers and philosophers.
The top trait of a hidden genius is coming at challenges and problems from a different angle.
Whether that’s addressing obstacles in business, society, philosophy, social relations, relationships or infrastructure, the low-key genius is always thinking about how challenges can be confronted and approached in different ways.
2) You think about the world in a different way
The hidden genius takes existing knowledge and then innovates on it, thinking of how to make the world better in a different way.
Take the issue of how to get products from point A to point B in vast amounts.
The intermodal shipping container was invented by American businessman Malcolm McLean in 1956.
McLean wanted a way to unload large amounts of truck freight that would get to their destination more quickly.
Working with engineer Keith Tantlinger, McLean came up with a way to link road, rail and ocean in the movement of massive amounts of product: the shipping container!
If I say the name “Malcolm McLean” very few people would have any idea who that is, but McLean and Tantlinger’s innovation changed world history and trade forever.
3) Your ideas apply to challenges and potentialities in the real world
The hidden genius isn’t just daydreaming away somewhere on their couch all day.
Granted, there are people whose potential will never be realized and whose ideas disappear like tufts of clouds at the end of an autumn day.
But the hidden genius is somebody who’s actually engaged with what’s going on in the real world.
Whether that’s painting in a way that’s never quite been done before, changing the way music is played or recorded, inventing shipping containers or starting a new religion, the hidden genius is never purely abstract.
Even great philosophers like Johann Goethe developed very applicable theories about the way color works, science and truth.
Even if you aren’t recognized in this lifetime, the mark that you’re a hidden genius is that what you do grapples or engages with the world and the zeitgeist in a real, powerful way.
4) You are friends with people others consider strange
Obscure geniuses aren’t afraid to be friends with some downright strange people.
If you’re a hidden genius then you may find yourself drawn to very unusual folks: far-left hippies and far-right authoritarians, theocrats and communists, libertarians and anarchists.
You may have friends who vary widely in age range, education level and professional field.
You can have a deep philosophical conversation with a street busker and then go to a Fortune 500 investors meeting and get granular on what’s projected for next quarter.
You’re not fitting in any easy category or social circle.
You don’t really limit your circle to one “type” of person or one category, and you are able to build bridges and relate to people from completely different walks of life.
5) You never judge people by their outer labels or status
On a related note, a hidden genius appreciates people for who they are.
You never say “that lady’s just a poorly-educated cafeteria worker” or “that guy is a failed lawyer with money problems.”
Those labels and status judgments, no matter how technically accurate, really aren’t important to you.
Society has its own way of “sorting” people and quite frankly it often puts some of the stupidest at the top.
You don’t take those labels very seriously at all, because you know that doing so would cause you to lose out on meeting many remarkable friends and colleagues.
6) You are on a personal journey that few understand
As a hidden genius you’ve always been on a personal journey that few others understood.
Look at people like spiritual teacher and hidden genius George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, an Armenian mystic who gained some fame in his life but is only now gaining full recognition for his brilliance today…
He writes about starting his life upside down and doing everything backwards, approaching things exactly the opposite as he was “supposed” to, and thereby discovering the truth behind all things.
Take the founder of Hasidic Judaism, the mystic and healer Baal Shem Tov (Israel ben Eliezer), who wandered the meadows and forests screaming out to the Creator about a new way to relate to God and understand His nature.
These people looked absolutely nuts to many of those they came across, while others saw in them (in their life and posthumously) a greatness and genius that was unparalleled and now moves millions.
This brings up the next point…
7) You find your own spiritual or religious path
The hidden genius walks the forests and untrodden paths calling out to God, the spirits, the elements, the ancestors!
You may go to a temple or church, you may not.
You may believe in a Creator, many creators, a spiritual world or the supernatural, or you may not.
But regardless, you care about what’s true and about what your existence means.
Even if you’re hardcore existentialist and atheist, you are trekking on your own journey of discovering truth.
8) You innovate with words and images in ways that touch people
As a hidden genius you use words and images in a way that touches people to their very core.
Hidden geniuses aren’t always “positive” or benevolent either.
Many examples exist from history of unremarkable men and women rising to the forefront during troubled times and historical trauma to become dictators, hateful figures and maniacs.
These seeming nobodies turned out to have a hidden talent and genius inside them to rally the masses and capture the zeitgeist of a period of time in ways that nobody else could.
If that’s you, we can only implore that you use your power for the good!
9) You are interested in changing entire systems, not just details
If you look at all hidden geniuses in history who often didn’t get full recognition in their life, something stands out:
They were often ahead of their time.
It isn’t that what they were doing was actually crazy or random or worthless, it’s just that the full appreciation of it came in another time when people were ready for it.
Even most religions began as small cults that were widely hated and disregarded until future generations realized they had some deep truth or worth in them.
Civil rights leaders like MLK Jr. and Malcolm X were seen as lunatic extremists by many in their time, including many people of color, but were only later recognized as geniuses.
10) You have an insatiable fire in your belly that nothing can put out
If you’re a hidden genius then you’ve always felt a little different than everyone else.
I realize that nowadays considering yourself “different” or “weird” has become stylish or even some kind of status symbol.
That’s not what I’m talking about here.
You don’t necessarily have blue hair or tons of piercings, your weirdness goes a little deeper than that:
You get over-intense when you talk about your passion, you sometimes get lost in the moment of doing what you love, you’re not necessarily “cool” or part of a mainstream social or political cohort.
But you have a fire in your belly and a passion that no amount of cynicism, ennui or social apathy can ever put out.
You’re a genius!
The word genius is derived from the Latin word “gignō”.
This refers to somebody’s nature or who they are at heart.
Being a genius is as much an instinct as it is any conscious effort or thing that you learn.
Being a genius is just who you are.
You need to question, you need to push boundaries, you need to innovate and change and go beyond what’s typical.
You have it in your blood. You can’t stop it.
You are a hidden genius.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…
“While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
“Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”