Rediscovering the Genius in Each of Us


This post was written jointly with Brigadier General John E. Michel of the United States Air Force. My team at Choose2Matter and I are joining forces with John and his team at General Leadership to create a new platform called “Liberating Genius.”

Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today. – James Dean

Research shows, and our life experience confirms, that nearly all 5 year-old kids believe they can and will change the world, and they have big plans for doing so.

Conversely, only about 2% of adults believe they can make a profound difference in the world.

Why, and when, do so many of us quit on our dreams?

We listen to the voices of the world telling us that dreaming is for young struggling artists

We buy into the idea of studying hard in school, getting a good, steady job, and having a stable life, with all our basic needs fulfilled.

We accept a shallow sense of security instead of pursuing the audacious goals and dreams we had when we were younger.

We listen to the voices of the world telling us that dreaming is for young struggling artists, and that dreams don’t pay the bills.

When it comes to the collective whole we have been conditioned to settle for mediocrity rather than pursuing our unique genius.

Mediocrity is living in fear when there’s a whole world out there to be explored.

Mediocrity is clocking into a job that you dread doing.

Mediocrity is letting your personal health fall to the bottom of your list of priorities.

Mediocrity is losing hope and believing the worst instead of giving your best.

Mediocrity is living your life without passion and purpose.

We’ve been led to believe in mediocrity as if it were the one truth. The truth is, mediocrity is against our very nature.

There is only one antidote to mediocrity – wake up, change our thinking, and take a stand. We must choose to liberate the genius within us.

There was a time in your life when you lived up to and into your genius. A time where you cherished your uniqueness and celebrated your abilities to do what no other person on the playground could do.

You dreamed, you dared, you created, you relished in wonder and celebrated in awe. You most certainly were not and could not be content with mediocrity.

And then somewhere between pre-school and today, you stopped believing.

A new narrative took hold. You listened as the world told you to “stop playing,” “get serious,” “stop dreaming and get a job,” “you were never destined to be…”

But we know something very important about you.

You still have a dream and a desire to not only succeed, but to exceed your wildest imagination.

Awesome and awe are not just for five-year-olds.

The only difference between the five-year-old you and the person reading these words, is that somewhere along the line you became a nonbeliever.

  •     Five-year-olds are fierce believers.
  •     They believe in dreaming big and celebrating the little.
  •     They believe they can and will make an impact.
  •     They believe in learning from anyone, anywhere.
  •     They believe in wonder and value questions, not answers.
  •     They believe in awesome.
  •     They own, honor and live into their genius.
  •     They believe in good and search for it in the world.

And most importantly, they believe us when we say: You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.

This simple sentence holds the key to their success and it holds the key to yours. If you are willing to fight against mediocrity.

So let’s be very clear, just in case you still think you are too old to believe any or all of these things. We not only believe in your genius and your capability to combat mediocrity, but we believe in your unique capacity to serve the world. We believe that every person was created with a unique contribution to share with the world. And if they choose to abandon or ignore it, than the world forever loses that unique contribution.

 We believe in your unique capacity to serve the world

Don’t let that be you. Commit to fighting your way back to your five-year-old self. Fight for your dreams with the ferocity that you had back then. Take the initiative to tap back into that childlike wellspring of trust, creativity and boundless imagination.

Choose to boldly say, “So long, mediocrity. Step aside, I’ve got it from here.”

It’s time for the world to hear, “Look world, no more Mediocre Me.”

Image credit: kamigami / 123RF Stock Photo

My life path has always been about teaching and communication. My twenty years as an educator and my passionate pursuit of literacy and learning, gave me the healthy dose of courage and skills that have led me through a wonderful variety of experiences, including classroom and University teaching, instructional coaching, research, writing, publishing, corporate training, and starting my own business.

  • Wow. You continue to inspire and influence. This ……. is Fantastic. Thank you Angela and General Michel. This is so true. I hope every person who has ever dreamed (all of us) and then became disillusioned and a non-believer, reads this with an open mind and open heart. Go back to thinking and dreaming like a 5 year old, because we ALL can make a difference.
    You Rock, Angela. Let me know if I can help or contribute in anyway. You know I CARE.

  • Hi Angela and John,

    Dream big, do big and leave the non dreamers behind. I agree with Al; fantastic message because more people need to hear your perspective. Look out of your window. Dreamers built that world. Look at your laptop. Look around your room. Dreamers built that world, discovering their genius.

    Thanks for sharing guy!


  • I don’t know how much my addition to the group of adults changes the 2% statistic, but I am proud to add my name to that list. I look forward to contributing in many ways.

  • Angela and General Michel, from a 5-year-old in a big body, let me just say: Thank you for this inspirational post! What a great way to start the week!!!

    General: welcome to our community. You aren’t the first military leader to find Switch and Shift, we’re delighted to find. I hope you like what you find among the Extraordinary Thinkers who call this spot home.

  • Hamid

    :) Thank you so much for articulating what I have been feeling and thinking about for the last 3 years of my life. It has been exactly 1 year since my fight against mediocrity started…it’s extremely difficult but extremely meaningful.. and the bills are somehow getting paid!

  • Exactly the validation I need for this reflection: (dated 24 November 2012). It’s either you’re one of Prince Charming’s fairy godparents or a cherub in Angela Maiers’s clothing. Bless you!

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  • Debra Parker

    Sooooooooo,how do I dump the ugly M word and get off my butt and get going with creative me when I forgot who creative me was cause I’m not sure I ever had a creative me in me.?.

    • Worthiness is a practice. Everyday we get a chance to restart and renew.

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