Tuesday 5 March 2019

Hard-working, Brilliant and the Genius

It was a Monday morning in 1987. My first day of the first semester at the University of Colombo. At PLT, the lecture theatre with colonial prestige, I attended my first ever university lecture. It was on Waves & Vibrations, conducted by Dr. K T L de Silva of the Physics Department. 

For almost one hour, he wrote many things on the blackboard with a piece of chalk, in tiny letters, murmuring something to the blackboard itself. 

It was a total disaster. I thought that I have been selected to university education by some sheer mistake. I couldn't understand a word. it was totally out of this world. 

My buddy in the next seat was quite relaxed. with a smiling face, he was looking at the small-built lecturer, who is talking monotonously. Perhaps he may be daydreaming about some pretty girls. 

After one hour of torture, the lecturer left. I turned to my colleague and asked 

"Machan, did you understand anything?".

"There was nothing to understand. It was just the basic, wasn't it?" he said casually with his usual grin.

That justified my thoughts. It may be a grave mistake for me, getting into the university, leaving a rather lucrative job that I had as a school leaver before entering the uni, at a private firm. 

It took a few months for me to understand that the mistake was something else.

The person who was next to me was the only genius that I have met in my life so far.......... Nilanga Liyanage.

There are three types of successful people in the world. They are the genius, the brilliant & the hard-working people. 

Geniuses (in old style genii) are born, not made
Brilliants are made, not born
Hard-workers are triggered from inside or outside

The most important task of parents is to identify that to what category of the above three their kids belong (or perhaps the fourth category, the failures). The sooner you identify this, the better the chances that you are going to have a successful son or daughter. 

A genius is born once in a blue moon. And whatever the environment that they are brought up they will excel in whatever they do. 

You may never see a genius study hard or even going through books. Most often they are well in advance to their teachers. They have high memory capacity and super fast analytical skills. 

Most geniuses enjoy the life to the maximum. As they don't need to spend time going through the educational stuff repeatedly, they have enough space in their lives for many other activities. They are usually jolly good fellas, with a good sense of humor and always in a party mood. However, despite their joyful day to day life, they excel in exams and other competitions.

Brilliants are made by the environment; parents, teachers, relatives and friends, the living atmosphere, and a little bit of genetics. 

Typically brilliants have a wide spectrum of behavior. Many of them at least keep a neat day to day work record. However, their studying habits may significantly vary from person to person. Some are used to study for a few hours every day. Whereas, some just browse their work for half an hour per day and cram quite intensively towards the end of the lecture course (a few days to the exam).  

Most often they get very good marks in the exams. Even if they drop down a bit at an exam, they can recover fast. If you, as parents, believe in them, they will gain enough confidence to upgrade themselves within a short time. 

Children start working hard due to two reasons; either something triggers them internally to do hard work or an external force, such as parents or teachers make them motivated.  

Hard-working people are the tidiest in housekeeping their studies. They have quite neat notebooks and detailed notes. They work a few to several hours every day and gradually increase the working time towards the exams. A hard worker needs a constant moral boost and push (verbal reminders and a little bit of sound) as it is a boring game to play throughout life. However, each hard-working child has a certain optimum time limit that he has to spend on his/her studies. Forcing them beyond that limit may cause even psychological instability in the child. 

As a parent, you should clearly understand that both brilliants and hard workers could fall down to the fourth category if you don't handle them correctly, especially at critical ages of their lives. 

One of the worst acts that I have seen among the parents is the comparison of their own kids with the others.

When the neighbor's son studies from 8 pm to 12 pm every day, some parents get highly upset. They start to yell at their kids who study just an hour a day, asking them to follow the next door guy. This is the worst that a parent can do to their children. It may totally ruin the entire career of the child. Sometimes, the child who is initially a brilliant will end up as an utter failure. 

There are cases that some students have gone through a sudden transition from hard-working to the brilliant category (not vice versa). This may be due to certain triggering factors. It is the duty of the parents to realize such transitions as well. 

Parents have to be quite vigilant to see whether their kid is getting into a close friendship with a genius (chances are rare). Most often this will be a disaster for the non-genius kid, especially, if the latter is a hard worker. The free and easy lifestyle of a genius-kid may totally mislead the other that it is the way of living for successful outcomes. Apart from that, the non-genius could be utterly frustrated when he sees that his colleague could understand matters that he cannot even imagine. This may force the kid to think that he himself is an idiot. As it repeats every moment, the end may be catastrophic. 

As a caring parent, observe your child patiently for a few years after he/she starts the schooling career. Then, determine to which category the child belongs. Once you realize that, guide the child accordingly so that he/she will end up as a happy and successful person.

Getting category 4 children into the successful lot is a complex game that should be addressed in a separate article. This article is for parents with kids in the first three categories. The bottom line is that you better not make the brilliants and hard-workers demoting into failure's level by unwise child-management. 

Good luck



  1. +++++++
    please can you translate this article to Sinhala?

    1. Thanks. But it is not that easy to find the proper Sinhala words for few keywords.

    2. That is why I asked from you.I want to share this with some people.

  2. Good lesson for us (parents) sometimes parenting take heart over mind and fall into old school parenting. Once in a while reading like this remind us to use our brains when parenting.

  3. There can be other sorts of geniuses that do not belong to the analytical category. For example there can be children who can compose music at an early age, draw realistic figurines and perhaps write good poetry. In those cases perhaps speed and memory aren't defining factors at all. Which brings me to the point, is speed and a large memory the definition of a genius? Or is it a person who understands a concept to the depth and who can foresee every incarnation of that concept in various many domains?

    1. There are quite a number of definitions for a genius. However, the most prominent characteristic of a genius is the non-dependence of their capacity on the environment. They are unmoved by the surrounding thus, how other people treat them or what their attitude, do not matter to the genius. This is how they differ from others. My intention in this article was to highlight this point. Thus, to show that the wrong identification of a brilliant or hard-worker as a genius may end up in disaster.

      A high memory capacity and fast analytical skills are two dominant features of a genius, among several others. Whether they apply those features in creative arts, science or sports is a different talking point.

    2. Furthermore, a person with born-talent, such as those who compose songs or make creative arts at early stage may or may not be geniuses. Sometimes these media inflated talented kids end up as failures. If the person can develop a given new complex task (at his age level) up to near perfection, then we can call him a genius. A genius does not lose this quality with age.

      One famous saying about geniuses is that "They never compalin that they had bad teachers". Because they are their own teachers.