As someone who hasn’t yet worked out how to be a billionaire inventor with an athlete’s body and the charm of a Princess, I think it makes sense to try and learn from people who have. Fortunately, for Global self-esteem, there aren’t many people who have managed to nail all of these things at once, but there are some names which stand out under each category.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
One of the things which baffles me most about the world today is the celebration of raw talent and child prodigies. The notion that some people were born special and have gone on to achieve glory using their unique gifts. Believing that you don’t have these gifts could leave you accepting a mediocre level of success, feeling it is inevitable because that is who you are. You weren’t born with a special ability, or if you were, you certainly haven’t identified it. But what if this idea of genius is something society made up and you don’t actually need to accept anything?
Starting with intelligence, Einstein is one of the most legendary physicists of all time; famous for answering questions others had failed to. Something lesser known about Einstein was that he was understood to have the learning difficulty, dyslexia. And something even less well known, was that he wasn’t actually a great mathematician. A field so fundamental to the understanding of complex scientific theories.
Einstein was aware of his mathematical shortcomings and so he partnered up with a someone who had the advanced understanding to solve the complex equations which ultimately proved Einstein’s theories. He said of his own brain:
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein
He trusted his instinct and had the commitment to manoeuvre past obstacles; both personal and professional.
When it comes to big thinking there are few minds which stir more intrigue than that of Elon Musk. One of the most famous entrepreneurs living today, Musk made his first dollar from co-founding Paypal, using his capital from that sale to re-define electric vehicles with Tesla and most recently competing with NASA in the race to get tourists to Mars. Born with an above average brain right? Maybe. He certainly thinks bigger than the average person, but it’s interesting the quality he looks for in employees:
“One thing that Musk holds in the highest regard is resolve, and he respects people who continue on after being told no.” – Ashlee Vance
In his biography on Musk, Ashlee Vance reveals that as a young Elon was a passionate reader. Whilst it is easy to categorise that as part of the signs he had a remarkable brain, I question the cause and effect relationship here. Did he read more because he was a natural genius or did he grow into being more advanced and ‘intelligent’ than average people, because he read so voraciously?
“The most striking part of Elon’s character as a young boy was his compulsion to read… ‘It was not unusual for him to read ten hours a day’” – Kimbal Musk, quoted by Ashlee Vance
Listen carefully to Elon and Einstein and it almost sounds as though genius can be cultivated by doing two key things:
1) Feeding your curiosity
2) Having the courage to think for yourself
Getting better at sports isn’t easy. You watch athletes and they make it seem like throwing that ball 60yards is as easy as making toast, and then you try it. So how does NFL Quarterback Tom Brady manage to do it with such ease?!
“Nearly eighteen seasons of playing professional football have shown me that sustained peak performance isn’t about luck. It’s about hard work, dedication, discipline, and the support of my great team.” – Tom Brady
OK, sure Tom but to be playing in the SuperBowl you must also have a fair chunk of natural talent and the right build?!
“No one believed I’d play even one year in college, or one year in the pros.” – Tom Brady
So if we’re to believe what Tom Brady believes about himself, he was an underdog. Not the best, but good enough to commit and commit again, every year, every month, everyday. His fellow Patriot’s teammate, Julian Edelman, tells a similar story in his memoir ‘Relentless’. Edelman’s father explains grounding the belief in Julian that: “‘Us Edelmans, we catch up. We always catch up. We may not have it at first but we always find a way to do it.’ Jules lived by that.”
What does Serena Williams have to say on the topic of her greatness? With 23 Grandslam titles and counting, she’s often considered the greatest tennis player of all time, to many the greatest athlete of all time.
“Luck has nothing to do with it, I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.” – Serena Williams
Let’s talk about looks now. Looks you are born with. They are genetic, gifted down by your parents. Christy Turlington, Gigi Hadid, Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, their faces were a gift from some higher power. Maybe. But what is it that makes someone really attractive? And I’m not about to say personality because, of course, but keeping in the physical vein here. Say you want to just get slightly closer to that level of conventional ‘hotness’ in the Western world today, what might help?
Well, according to Christy Turlington, exercise is a big one.
“I don’t do a lot of facials or anything like that, I just try to eat well and exercise because that’s the best thing you can do for your skin and your health.” – Christy Turlington
Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bundchen. Three examples of ‘hot’ women who have all expanded their business ventures by releasing books about their lifestyles. And their lifestyles typically focus on habits like, eating low sugar, getting good sleep, drinking water, high intensity cardio and oil pulling. Taking time to invest in their skin, makeup and hair care routines.
“Pretty is something you’re born with. But beautiful, that’s an equal opportunity adjective.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Whilst regular exercise and clean eating won’t change your bone structure, it will change your skin, your hair, your stance, your overall physical presence. Radiance is one of the founding principles of beauty. Looking at before/after photos of the Kardashians is one way to understand the influence we genuinely have over our own physical appearance.
Now some of this might sound obvious and for that reason, slightly annoying, but the message is this: you have more power over your looks than you might believe. That doesn’t mean you need to invest time in this area, care much or subscribe to conventional ideas of beauty, but in a world where insecurities hold so many people back I believe accepting greater power over every aspect of your being is liberating.
I believe, from understanding remarkable people, that you really can do anything. If you’ve seen someone else do something, you can do it as well. It just relies in having the strength to keep practising when everyone else stops and the belief that you’ll get there if you do.
“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.” – Serena Williams
Lexy is a writer, DJ and marketing professional living in London. She is a gemini and a feminist who loves coffee and leather trousers.