He never attributed his accomplishments to his brilliant mind. Rather, he credited his character – his simple curiosity combined with relentless determination.
It’s a great lesson in self-leadership for us all. There are many smart people in this world going nowhere fast. Here is what Einstein had to say, and how we can apply his words of wisdom to our daily lives today.
1. “Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”
Character: The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
What exactly is the “character” to which Einstein referred? And why did he believe it to be so important? Character is who you really are, deep down. It’s your moral compass. Your ability to do the right thing. Character includes qualities that do not necessarily depend on intellect, such as your curiosity, confidence, being alert, persistence and being open to all possibilities.
While being smart is important, intelligence in and of itself is of little value unless it is guided by a strong character.
Lead with character – your resolve to get the job done, no matter what.
2. “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
Imagination: The ability of the mind to be creative or resourceful.
Einstein had his biggest breakthroughs, not by conducting experiments in a laboratory, but rather, by dreaming things up in his head. He had what we all have – an imagination. Start today by asking “What if?” and dream about all of the things you could be doing. Things are nowhere near as restrictive or as bad as you think. Not at all.
Let the ideas flow and the possibilities emerge.
3. “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
Curiosity: A strong desire to know or learn something.
There is indeed an Einstein in all of us. We can all lead ourselves with passionate curiosity. This child-like quality never left Einstein. He had it his whole life, and was interested not just in mathematics or theory, but in politics, people, places and the world at large. This week, make time to research those things that interest you.
Become a curious leader of self.
4. “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
Present: Existing or occurring now.
Most of us are constantly thinking of the future. We spend all of our time worrying about it, planning it – and some of us try to avoid it. The man who developed the theory of relativity lived in the here and now. Be present – for others, for yourself. Your drifting mind is a message that you are alive but not here.
Lead yourself into the present.
5. “Information is not knowledge.”
Knowledge: Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
In my role as a business owner, I meet many people who have incredible amounts of information at their fingertips. Yet, they seem to know nothing. They cannot provide me with the answers I need. A wealth of information may be a curse. “Knowledge” is knowing what to do and what is happening. Trust your instincts. Dig into your personal history. I would rely far more on that than I would your spreadsheet.
Worry not about having all the information. Instead, look inside for answers.
6. “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”
Miracle: A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws.
It is a miracle that our hearts are beating. What is keeping us alive…really? Our emotions, intellect, the ocean, trees, animals…all highly complex, all incredible miracles. Einstein was a firm believer in life as a miracle. Today, we are too busy to realize this. Everything is taken for granted and nothing is seen as special. Rediscover life as it was meant to be – a journey of wonderment. Slow down. Think about how wonderful your children are, your spouse – yourself.
Start seeing the miracles in your life.
7. “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”
Creativity: The use of the imagination or original ideas.
As a child, Einstein was slow. He even spoke slowly. He valued quiet and contemplation. Today’s world of noise is killing creativity. The modern workplace, filled with interruptions, distractions and conflict is no place to get work done. Get away. Breathe. Find solitude wherever you can get it. Whenever I take a long drive, I begin to see things I could never have seen while at the office.
Lead in silence.
8. “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
Intuition: The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
Can you believe this statement came from one of the most intelligent people the world has ever seen? If intuition is the valuable thing, then you can be as effective as Einstein. You can solve big problems. You can get yourself through a jam. You can point yourself in the right direction. Never underestimate your own hunches.
You don’t need to be a genius. But you do need to trust yourself more.
Albert Einstein was not known for his memory. He had difficulty remembering names. He took little care in his appearance, often looking like a hobo.
But what he did possess, and what we can all have, is an active imagination.
Exercise the Einstein in you.
Lead your life thinking outside of the box – to solve problems, escape bad situations, to truly live.
© 2016 Cory Robert Galbraith, All Rights Reserved.