To Anyone Who Feels Stupid

Parents, teachers, and society might have told you one way or another that you were “stupid.” Maybe they said it slyly, covertly, through low grades or minimal expectations for your success. Maybe they communicated it to you with eye-rolling exasperation at the way you did – or didn’t do – things. If any of this resonates with you, I’m here to tell you: They were wrong.

We’re taught to think that academic achievement, impeccable grammar, or a Ph.D. represents intelligence, while bad grades, fewer degrees, or manual labor professions represent some kind of ‘lower’ intelligence. That’s all a big fat lie.

Academic achievement in an average American public school typically recognizes three types of intelligence: those who can study well, those who can memorize information from hearing or reading it, and those who conform to what various teachers like.

There is no question that students who earn high marks do have terrific brains and an impressive work ethic, and that should be celebrated. But this is merely one type of intelligence, out of hundreds.

We Are All Geniuses

You are a genius. Yes, you.

It may be hard for teachers or parents to see, and it might be hard for you to see, but if we look deep beyond the labels of ADD, hyperactive, “disabled,” or “bad at school,” we can and will see extraordinary untapped genius.

We need to redefine our idea of smart, successful, or genius – for ourselves as well as for our children.

Genius is the auto mechanic who understands what a rotary engine is and knows how to fix it.

Genius is the artist who intuitively frames, crops, and presents a stunning photograph.

Genius is the athlete who gracefully runs a 5k or hits a home run.

Genius is the woodworker who knows precisely how to cut 90-degree angles and secure them together to build a jewelry box.

Genius is the daycare provider who patiently soothes and distracts a tantrum-ing toddler.

Genius is the plumber who knows how to install and repair a dozen different water fixtures.

Genius is the spirited child who can make a room full of people laugh.

Genius is the person who takes pride in their hard work no matter what it is.

Genius is the piano player, the painter, the dancer, the electrician, the dog trainer, the repairman, the stay-at-home parent.

Genius is you.