One online dictionary defines genius as "exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability." For as long as I can remember, I have been plagued by the concept of genius and its relation to success. I do not know where the idea originated, but I held a subconscious belief that success in one's chosen field was surely and necessarily the result of some innate, from birth, type of genius.
Ideas have consequences. I spent the better part of college agonizing over whether or not I had genius, because in my mind, I could only be mediocre without it. I entered into every project and assignment with fear, trepidation, and expectation. Would I once and for all prove myself, or be woefully inadequate? After four years of academic successes, my anxieties remained and the mere thought of more education emotionally exhausted me.
My husband and I wanted to start a family, and as the kids came (three, nineteen months apart) I wasn't so invested in thought about it. I had stepped off the treadmill, and uneasily glanced back only occasionally. Maybe my shift in thought came as a result of this distance. Maybe it was the new perspective that living in the "real world" (though I hate that expression...) afforded me, seeing real people achieving real successes in their chosen work, and also exposure to some great resources, but I came to recognize the myth of genius.
The life truth that I want my children to know from a young age is this: Genius isn't the key to success, or even a necessary component; it can actually be a distraction or a pitfall if overly emphasized or relied upon. True and lasting success is ultimately the result of integrity of character, hard work, and productive methods of problem solving.
I think that an earlier grasp of this reality would have allowed greater joy into the ventures of my younger self and dispelled the discouragement that so often haunted my steps. Such thinking also changes the mental paradigm from, "Am I good enough?" to "If anything is possible, is this good enough (i.e. a worthwhile goal)?"
Hopefully one day my children will read this. And hopefully, if there is some idea, some project, some goal stirring in your head and heart today, you will put aside your fears of inadequacy. Put aside the suspicions of self and and ask whether you really want to achieve that goal, and if it is worth it. If the answers are yes, go for it!
P.S. If you are looking for some resources to help jumpstart your bid for life successes, I highly recommend this book and this book.