Twelve times in the past seven years, I’ve read the same book about naming your genius.
Twelve times I’ve come up with a name, then immediately started second guessing it. Every time, I end up having to read it again, because I’m just not getting it.
But every time, I expanded a little. It forced me to re-evaluate myself and look at my own actions, my own peccadilloes and frustrations and successes and become a little more self-aware.
In fact, this is the book that I credit with making me even start to turn that bullshit meter I use so well inward.
And this time, the thirteenth time, I did it. I don’t know why it clicked now, but it did. The author talks strongly about a “felt sense”, a sense that just knocks you silent, like dominoes falling into a sudden stop, where everything crystallizes and in an instant upon naming the thing correctly, there’s no more questioning. No more doubt.
Comparing the name against your actions throughout your life, against every fuck-up and frustration, against every success, skill and interest, against the people you were attracted to and the ones you hated, the ones that grew to be your closest friends and the ones that drifted away, all of it, making sudden sense in the discovery of this great motivator, this great driver that propels you to your purpose.
Hell, the entire reason I’m a writer, that I enjoy stories of all kinds, the very fact that freedom of everything is my highest value, right next to peace, understanding, growth and bliss, all stems from expanding worlds.
The packs of roving idiots that litter the landscape and my endless frustration with their inability to self-assess or see past the ends of their own noses stems from this. Hell, my own self-call-outs on not being able to do the same comes from this.
Expanding worlds to me encompasses everything from my love of genre fiction to my obsession with the expansive shared universes of Marvel and DC. It’s why I like Doctor Who and Star Trek. It’s why James Bond appeals to me. It’s why I like creating my own worlds, and why I can’t help but want to write stories about “forgotten” characters, or characters who get little love or play smaller roles in the comics I read (see Hawk and Dove or Cloak and Dagger or Aphrodite IX).
It’s why perspective is so important to me and why I can’t seem to help playing devil’s advocate. It’s why I stressed myself out so much at a prior job I nearly collapsed, because I wanted all the people around me to see beyond their myopic and selfish behaviour, to the bigger picture, one that provided benefits for everyone – customer, manager, employee, boss, company, everyone. It’s why I’m obsessed with trying to figure out what benefits that same company gets out of its consultant’s radical new system, one that outwardly appears entirely designed to answer the question, “how can we fuck up a company real, real, bad?”
Seriously. I worked with or was manager of hundreds of people over there, many of whom have contacted me in the past year or so since this system started, to see if my new place was hiring. None of them, not one, whether they were looking for a way out, or whether I ran into them at Walmart had anything positive to say about this system, which removed all statistics, intelligence, job positions (and motivation to work harder since no promotions or ability to go beyond the front line was left), accountability, productivity, specialization, the notion that people have different talents and the ability to use them, and a basic understanding of human nature and what it takes to make a successful business run and have employees who actually want the place to succeed.
I was swarmed at the last Christmas party by people who begged me to come back and talk some sense into the CEO. Apparently, the general consensus is that he’s trying to run the company into the ground, but no one seems to know why.
Half of me wants to contact him just to have him explain it to me, thereby expanding my view of the whole thing, or maybe his, if the evaluations I’ve heard and made are correct. Something in me can barely resist. I want to know the reason why.
Expanding worlds is what I do. It’s why I write. It’s why I read. It’s why I’m always searching for an alternate perspective, and can even self-sabotage by reaching a conclusion I should, then second-guessing it back the way I came, just for another point of view.
Everything is driven by either expanding worlds or trying to work against that fact. All my frustration stems from not doing this, either sabotaging myself by giving in to myopia or failing to question some opinion I’m holding that I should have. My frustrations with others almost inevitably stem from their inability to see things from a different angle, from another point of view.
Or often times, their complete unwillingness to even consider the attempt.
Of course, not all perspectives are equal, which is why part of the expansive thinking inevitably requires deconstruction. Tearing down the edifices of current thinking to get to a point where no more expansion is possible, where the paint’s stripped bare and we have canvas again, to repaint, with the truth we learned (and then, to question that truth as we go, poking for holes and other ways to see, in order to ferret out any weaknesses in the argument). I force myself more often than not these days to try and see things from others’ perspective, and am nearly always the better for it. My worst moments have all come when I refused to see beyond my truth, to possible alternatives, and denied the motivations that may have driven an action I didn’t try to understand.
Real truths grow stronger upon examination, upon questioning, upon their fundamentals. They function as earworms, their reality undeniable against the evidence that inevitably grows as they expand across the world.
All lies fall apart under inspection. Truths only grow more evident.
That’s why perspective is so important, and why expanding our minds is so critical to the evolution of the self and the species.
That is my genius.
I expand worlds.
It’s what I do.
The only question now is how not to deny it.