Leonardo Da Vinci took many years to complete his famous works and Mona Lisa according to some people was more than 14 years of his hard work.
Most of his paintings though took between 3 to 5 years establishing him as an epitome of creativity raising him to the pinnacle, to be hailed as a Universal Genius.
What’s common between Einstein, Picasso, Shakespeare and Ramanujan
When we think of geniuses, names like Da Vinci, Picasso, Shakespeare, Einstein, Ramanujan, strikes our mind effortlessly. These names have become synonymous with genius and intellect.
So, what makes one person a genius while others continue to live and die in mediocrity. On a statistical scale, a very small percentage of the population has any slight chance of achieving the level of greatness that these people have achieved.
We still view their work with the awe and admiration reserved only for someone with superhuman abilities.
However, is it possible to achieve mastery in whatever work we are involved in, and what does it take to become as dexterous as these prodigies.
Does Natural Talent Exist or Can We All be Geniuses?
The answer if we go by the research done by Matthew Syed in this area is ‘we all can be geniuses. In his book ‘Bounce’, Syed explored how Kenya was able to produce record breaking distance runners, while most of the table tennis players in England were coming from his own town of Reading.
He also focused on understanding the practice rituals of musicians like Mozart which also held the secret for his success as well as how Polgar was able to turn his three daughters into chess geniuses.
What he found out was that although we may rate the inherent strengths of individuals as the reasons for their success, the true cause of their triumph lies in uncompromised practice schedule which they all would follow with maniacal persistence.
Does Visualization Help
There is another research done in this area which reveals how visualization can work as effectively as actual practice.
Dr. Biasiotto who worked at university of Chicago conducted an experiment to find out how our brain is conditioned with practice.
He did this experiment with basketball players by dividing them into three groups.
- The First group practiced every day for an hour.
- The second group ‘visualized’ practicing. They just practiced mentally.
- The third group did not do anything.
The experiment went on for a month, after which the groups were tested again. The results were surprising not only to Dr. Biasiotto bit also to the participants.
The first group improved by 24%
The second group which just imitated the practice in their mind without doing anything physically also improved by a whopping 23%
The third group which was also the control group did not show any improvement.
Source –Visualization Study
This was a revelation as the study was a proof of the power of our mind in achieving expertise.
Just by mimicking the basketball throws in the mind, it was enough to create the right kind of neural pathways in our brain which would otherwise get strengthened only with regular physical practice.
The study also proved how visualization when combined with actual practice can lead to astonishing results.
However, when practicing mentally, its equally important to feel the ball in the hands, feel the smell of the environment around and instead of observing, one should be doing the activity mentally to get any benefit of it. This will apply to any of the other practice ritual one may follow.
Were these Geniuses Also Using Visualization to Achieve this high level of Mastery
We are still not sure of this, as there is no attributable evidence to it, but were these geniuses aware of visualization and using it to become better than most of their contemporaries, we can only speculate it to be true.
When someone can combine regular practice with visualization, we could witness a phenomenal improvement in one’s performance.
Regular practice both at a physical and mental level can stimulate our brains to a much larger extent leading to a far higher level of improvement.
Innate talent may not be the sole reason for Einstein to have achieved what he could, the hard work often done practicing, be it physical or mental remain hidden from the public. We only get to witness the results while the failures while making that small incremental progress stays within these geniuses.
So, what are your Views?
I would love to hear your views on mental practice or visualization. Have you tried it or would you want to give it a go?
Looking forward to hearing both similar and contrary opinions.