The Genius Equation: You’re Closer Than You Thought to Revealing the Genius That You Are

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When it comes to this topic, I couldn’t help but think about the tagline or slogan that shows up in Scotiabank’s marketing. “You’re richer than you think.” The concept is quite similar for the Genius Equation, too. You’re closer than you thought to revealing the genius that you are. I’ll explain why that is and what you can do about it.

What Is the Genius Equation?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, or better yet, play along with the listeners at home. If you’ve had anything at all to do with personal development before or business development, for that matter, then chances are you already know what the Genius Equation is. It’s stated in a well-known quote by Thomas Edison.

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison

Or shown slightly differently, the equation perhaps becomes a little bit clearer:

Genius = 1% inspiration + 99% perspiration

Genius = 1% ideas / talents + 99% work / effort / action

“Wait a minute.” You might be saying. (Much like I was when I started thinking of that quote as describing an equation.) Understanding the Genius Equation shows that genius, which is usually thought of as something nearly unattainable and entirely rare, is in fact something that is quite attainable and could be extremely common. If properly applied and acted upon.

That’s where you enter the equation. This is where you can begin to see what a genius you are. All that’s required is for you to show it. So, what’s involved?

1% Inspiration — You Gotta Start Somewhere

This is where so many people have gotten stuck. This is where I can begin to demonstrate that it’s not the ideas that matter the most. Ideas are useless unless they’re acted upon. Brainstorming sessions are great, but that can’t be all there is.

I’m getting ahead of myself here though. After all, you’ve still gotta come up with the ideas in the first place. You still gotta start somewhere. Just like how I had to have the initial spark of inspiration for this post. If inspiration was all anybody needed to accomplish anything, we’d be living in an entirely different world. We would only have to think about something, and it would happen. Thoughts would become things instantly. It’s tempting to say that such a reality might make people too lazy. No effort, all reward. Something’s missing there.

I’m sure you’ve got plenty of ideas already. It’s simply a matter of doing something with them. It’s simply a matter of moving on to the next part of the equation. The part that makes all the difference.

So yes, it’s useful to have ideas, and it’s also useful to remember that there is more to the Genius Equation. Geniuses aren’t known simply for their ideas. They’re known for their actions. Which brings us to:

99% Perspiration — You Gotta Go Somewhere

What are all the ideas in the world worth without some organization?


Without some organization, those ideas would never happen.

This is what separates the known geniuses from the hidden geniuses. You don’t have to hide any more, and neither do I. There are methods available for organizing our ideas and making them happen.

One of those methods is The Action Method, which is described in “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky. In the book, Belsky explains that everything in life is a project and that each project only has three components: action steps, backburner items, and references.

Action steps are the tasks that you need to do. Backburner items are action steps that may be relevant at some point. You’ll have to review them periodically to see if they get to be moved into current action steps to take. References are what give the context for each project. Without references, you might not know what your action steps are.

Belsky goes into great detail about what The Action Method is, and you can discover it through the book “Making Ideas Happen.” That’s one resource I can recommend to help you get started and get going.

Your ideas are important. Give them the life they deserve. Odds are that you’re looking to help humanity with whatever your ideas are, but the bottom line is that you’ve got to put the effort in if you’re ever going to give your ideas enough of a chance to survive and maybe even thrive.

It’s up to you to win. You’re the only one that’s in your own way.

Where Has Your Genius Been Hiding?

I’ve been thinking more about the Genius Equation lately, especially over the last two years. I was putting more focus on the inspiration, the 1%, than I was putting on the perspiration, the 99%. I kept thinking “For being only 1%, the inspiration really must be powerful.” And I’ve wondered what the inspiration could be for it to be such a driving force.

To be fair, inspiration is very important to look at. Earl Nightingale, in “The Strangest Secret” audio from 1956, points out the importance of inspiration for achieving anything worthwhile. And he recommends some inspirational books to read, including The Bible, “Wake Up and Live” by Dorothea Brand, “The Magic of Believing” by Claude Bristol, and “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.

==> Click here to read my review of “The Strangest Secret.” <==

==> Click here to read my review of the “Wake Up and Live” book. <==

==> Click here to read my review of “The Magic of Believing” book. <==

Nightingale does know what he’s talking about, too. “The Strangest Secret” audio is considered the very beginning of what has morphed into today’s personal development industry. Nightingale’s company, Nightingale Conant, is still a valuable part of that industry.

As great as inspiration is, the problem is that I was largely staying stuck there. It doesn’t matter how many motivational videos you watch on YouTube or how much you meditate or whatever else you do for inspiration, what matters the most is the other 99% of the equation.

What are you doing to improve your life and the lives of others?

It’s the action that counts. It’s the action that makes all the difference. This is where you reveal your genius. And it is there, deep inside you. You’ve got to let it out.

Where has your genius been hiding? What activities have you been using to keep it tucked away? And what activities have given you clues about where your genius can show up in this lifetime?

Carefully consider these questions. If you have to, focus on them and answer them before you continue reading the rest of this post.

If you had some difficulty in answering those questions, then ask a re-worded version of them to some people who know you. Their answers might surprise you.

At least then you’ll have an idea of where to start revealing your genius, if you didn’t know already.

And if you need anybody’s permission before you get started, then you have mine. Go ahead and show the world what a genius you are. Show yourself that you are bigger than you ever thought you could be.

The truth is that you don’t need anybody’s permission other than your own to reveal what a genius you are. Giving yourself permission to show who you really are and then acting on it may be the greatest thing that you ever do.


The best equations are simple and easy to understand, The Genius Equation is like that.

Genius = 1% inspiration + 99% perspiration

Genius = 1% ideas / talents + 99% work / effort / action

It shows clearly what’s required. Genius is inspiration and action. It’s ideas and effort. 1% of one, 99% of the other. This equation shows that anybody can be a genius. Anybody. Genius is attainable. It’s within reach.

By taking action, you activate the power of the giant within you. The giant that you forgot about and locked away deep inside yourself. You are already perfect. You are enough. You are powerful, that you are.

Reveal to yourself and to the world that you are a genius. And that’s the beauty of it. You get to live from the reality of who you truly are. Not for ego. Not for fame. Not for glory. Simply because you can and simply because you are. Simply because you care enough about yourself, about everybody that you can impact, about everybody that they can impact, and so on.

I’ve mentioned various resources above that you can look to for inspiration and for helping you take action. You don’t have to go through everything all at once. A little at a time goes a long way. The importance is in developing your action muscles. A little more action each day makes your action muscles stronger. Small habits here and there add up to huge gains.

“Just as a master musician may cause the most beautiful strains of music to pour forth from the strings of a violin, so may you arouse the genius which lies asleep in your brain and cause it to drive you upward to whatever goal you may wish to achieve.” – “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill

Get to know yourself better. Ask yourself and ask those who care about you the following questions:

“Where has my genius been hiding? What activities have I been using to keep it tucked away? And what activities have given me / you clues about where my genius can show up in this lifetime?”

The feedback that you receive can serve as your inspiration, and you might even discover some clear action steps from that as well. Remember to approach this from the mindset that every problem has a solution and that genius is attainable for you. Yes, even you.

The actions that you start with don’t have to be huge. Sometimes the simplest of actions are the most transformational. Simply get started and keep getting started each day. That’s all you can do, and that has to be enough.

Allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised at what you discover about yourself as you go on this journey of revealing the genius that you are.

Remember: You’re Closer Than You Thought.

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Until next time,

James Barnett

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4 thoughts on “The Genius Equation: You’re Closer Than You Thought to Revealing the Genius That You Are”

  1. Hi James,
    Ouch….you stepped on my toes a little! LOL
    It’s okay, it was good and very much needed. I, like you, love the 1% inspiration part but have struggled with the 99%. What I have found is that I enjoy the actual work once I get started, it is the getting started part that is the hardest.
    I loved your post and how it showed me that every day, I’m closer to being a genius! It was very inspirational!

    1. Thank you, Lisa, for your valuable feedback. The getting started part is the hardest for me, too. I’ve had to greatly simplify tasks just to get doing them, and often I would end up having fun. Those were some times where I wondered why I delayed taking action.
      Spread the word that everyone is closer to being a genius than they think. Who knows? They might even prove us right.

  2. “The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.”
    Prof. Leo Buscaglia

    I came across this quote from Bruce Chanen’s comment on Humans of New York today. It is a reminder that we are all students / teachers and that we all have the choice to transform our life and the potential to make a difference in other people’s lives with a simple act of sharing. Keep up the good work, James Barnett! Cheering for you!

    1. Thank you, Camino Gal, for your massive support that you’ve shown throughout the time that we’ve known each other, including thinking of the name for this website. I wouldn’t be here without you. I acknowledge your generosity, and I acknowledge your gifts. You are very dear to me.

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