It is this interplay between all that is richly human and this special, concentrated, uninterrupted mental effort that seems to me to be the source, not only of science, but also of everything that is worthwhile in life.
Ronald Fierstein -- A Triumph of Genius
Is the word "genius" overused or do we all possess a little genius within?
The answer is both. We do use genius too often to describe attributes that do not meet the standard, while at the same time we all have a bit of it in ourselves.
One gentleman who fits the standard of "genius" is Edwin Land, the inventor and founder of Polaroid
My guest this week, on most of our PBS stations, is attorney, author and producer, Ronald Fierstein. Our conversation about his book, A Triumph of Genius, tells the most fascinating story about Ed Land; his genius, his building of Polaroid and his long running patent battle with Kodak, of which Ronald played a role.
But, what about the rest of us. How can we access the genius within and what are the important qualities that make it up?
Some of the answers come from Edwin Land himself and are found in Ronald's book. Land always believed that: "If you are able to state a problem... then the problem can be solved." He believed this did not only apply to the so called geniuses of the world, but to all of us if we have the persistence to follow through and stick with it.
Perseverance is one of the attributes that all geniuses possess, and we all have our own inner ability to do the same. Ronald reminds us that what is most important to be aware of is that perseverance is not always a straight line to follow.
Experience, taught Land that the path leading to reaching a goal was not always a direct one.
We all have to be willing to zig-zag through life and that at each and every turn be prepared to not only see, but truly internalize the wisdom gained at every obstacle in our path.
As Ronald writes about Edwin Land: "It is impossible to overstate how many different ideas and failures Land endured."
That is the key to uncovering our own genius. If we can, and I personally know it is not easy, have the ability to view failure not as defeat but as another step on the journey then we ignite the spark of genius that can lead to greater things.
In the acknowledgements of Triumph of Genius Ron thanks his brother, the talented entertainer, and star of stage and film, Harvey Fierstein, with these words.
My brother, Harvey, has taught me (and lots of others) that it is not only okay but imperative to be who you are and to believe that anything is possible.
Be who you are and let the genius within flow freely.
Enjoy the show and have a great week,