Creative Tension – Part 4B of 7

The Path of Genius

“Towering genius disdains a beaten path.
It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.

~Abraham Lincoln

As I read through Trustworthy Timbre, Jeff’s latest post in our series, there are several key words, phrases, and themes that keep calling for my attention. Not surprising, calling the loudest is Voice, supported with resonance, flow, and the metaphor of the tree. And while Jeff and I share our thoughts, our words of wisdom for Gather – Give – Grow, it’s important to understand that this is not a linear process.Jennifer 4B-1 Like the roots of the tree, the acts of gathering, giving, and growing are intricately intertwined to touch, nudge, guide, and provide energy to nurture the tree that we are as we grow strong and share our voice.

Even as we journey to explore a previously unexplored area of ourselves and engage in divergent thinking, I’ve noticed a pattern in the messages Jeff and I are sharing. We have shared messages of being intentional, disciplined, and strategic. Our journey becomes even more significant when we “deliberately disengage” and “consciously learn to apply our voice”. In moments like this we encounter resonance – that feeling of being in sync with the universe. This is when we are calling on our Genius.

So what is our Genius?

I’m not talking about the diluted definition that is used to depict intelligence.  If we look at the original Latin meaning of the word, it means “to beget, to create, to bring into being.”  In ancient Rome, the word genius often referred to a person’s “guiding spirit” and over time took on the meaning of a person’s natural, inherited abilities.  So in this sense of the word, we are all genius.  We just need to determine exactly what our specific genius is.  This is when I often wonder what else can I do?  What else can I do for my own development?  And what else can I do to help others?  So I share this last bit of information from Marcus Buckingham.

Though your genius is ingrained, the right way to channel it is not.

Knowing that you have strengths, or as Jeff has shared, a voice, isn’t enough. Even knowing what your strengths are, isn’t enough. You need to OWN them. You need to really understand them. And then you need to consciously decide how best to apply them. As leaders, we do this in support of, and in service of, those we lead.

As an example I’ll share another story of my daughter, Shannon. I clearly remember the day I received a call from her school principle. She had hit a classmate (not very hard) in the face. When I spoke with Shannon that evening about the incident and asked her why she did it. She told me that the teacher was teaching and her classmate would not stop talking. So she hit her!

Shannon was 5 years old and in kindergarten at the time.

She’s 10 now and I’ve seen many times where Shannon has “taken charge” of the situation. She definitely has a talent for being in command. Unchecked, she could grow up to be a bully. But consciously developed, I see the future leader she is.

My point is this, know that your strengths will come out no matter what. You just want to make sure that you are in control of them when they do. To help you with this, remember these three Principles from the book StandOut by Marcus Buckingham.

  1. Your Genius Is Precise – Take the time to identify when you feel resonance. This is when you see, understand, and learn much faster and more efficiently.
  2. You Can’t Respect What You Don’t Remember – Apply your Strengths consciously – every day!  Don’t sit back and wait for the world to hand you opportunities.  Make your own opportunities. 
  3. Reach Beyond Your Role – Push yourself within your strength zone.  Investigate what your strengths may be and how they show up in your role as leader. Then sharpen your edge by honing how you leverage your strengths, your voice, and be more intentional.

GatherGive – Grow

So while I still have regions yet unexplored, my own strengths journey has come a long way (Grow).  I’ve learned to recognize when I’m leveraging my strengths (Gather), and I’ve learned to recognize when I should leverage my strengths (Give).  And I hope that on our journey together, you have too.  Because the path we choose as leaders in the work of trueness will make all the difference.

Photos courtesy of

Photos courtesy of

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost (1874-1963



Jennifer Rainey "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

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About Jeff Brunson

In this whirling 21st Century the individual needs to embrace the authentic self and confidently leverage the energy and power found there. As we entered the 21st Century, I became more concerned about what leaders like you needed for successful influence and personal fulfillment. As we move deeper into this challenging 21st Century, I’m more convinced than ever that the core of my work is in helping individual leaders remember who they are − a trueness. It is about confidence found in your authenticity.

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