The misunderstood genius
The misunderstood genius
A misunderstood genius was walking on a plain not far from a great
metropolitan city, at 3 pm while the sun was high in the sky, and the earth
was splitting from drought. He was there because he needed some time to
contemplate in a quiet environment. However; his troubled state of mind was
not cooperating too well with his desire to generate some fruitful ideas.
He kicked a single cactus that just eyed a little too bouncy and bubbly for
his antagonistic mood. "The nerve of this plant to stand there so vivacious
in such sizzling sun. It should be against the law!" he grumbled. But the
cactus stung him right through his canvas shoe, and the misunderstood genius
uttered a cry from pain.
While rubbing the sore toes of his right foot with his left hand, the
misunderstood genius saw a middle aged woman in light khaki observing him
with a gaze that held the middle between amusement and mild aggravation.
"Silly man," the woman said, "You should have known how the cactus would
respond to your foolish deed."
"Cactuses canÆt talk, woman, and I just didnÆt kick it hard enough, I
"Oh you kicked hard alright," said the woman, "But the cactus was not going
to let you get away with your unfounded aggression. Everything has a message
for you, donÆt you know? The cactus just told you that you should never hurt
or insult others without expecting the same in return. So, in fact the
cactus just maintained the golden rule: DonÆt do unto others what you donÆt
want to be done unto yourself. But tell me, why are you actually so upset
"Well, not that itÆs any of your business, but my life has not been running
very smoothly lately." Replied the misunderstood genius. "I just got laid
off from my job as a promising engineer because some character at the other
end of the world offered my company similar service for half the hourly
rate. And that happened just while I was well on my way to developing a new
device at home: a device that would cut the production costs for my company
in half, while shortening the delivery time with 35%. But I guess it just
took a little too long, and the extent of my luck was just a little too
short to achieve my goal before they let me go."
"So, what does it take for you to finish the development of this new device
on your own and sell it to either the company you recently worked for, or
"HmmmàI hadnÆt thought about that. Actually, it wouldnÆt take too much
additional effort, since the blueprint is almost ready." The misunderstood
genius was truly starting to smile again. His energy noticeably increased,
while a gleam replaced the dimness that had been in his eyes just a moment
ago. "In fact, I am pretty sure that I will get an opportunity to present my
plan if it is well constructed and comprehensive enough. They never ignore
proposals that can possibly result in capital generation and efficiency
increase. And I believe that the very fact that I am providing the company
that recently let me go with this primer instead of vindictively offering it
to their main competitor, may create a different dimension in our
"Wise thinking!" replied the woman, "You are not repaying good with evil.
Your genius is on the rise!"
Just as sudden as the woman had appeared, was she gone again. But the
misunderstood genius felt reenergized, hurried home, finished the blueprint,
settled his copyright issues, and made an appointment with the top
management of the company he had been working for during the preceding 4
years. Within three weeks he gave a spectacular presentation, and became a
very prestigious consultant for the company, making ten times more money
than he used to as an employee.
But the financial prosperity was not the most important improvement in the
geniusÆ life. Even more essential to him was the dignity that he regained by
learning to perceive himself as an equal partner with the company he was
once just working for. This newly gained dignity spawned tremendous
inspiration within the genius, and device after sophisticated device he
developed, not only for the company he was now advising, but also for others
in- and outside the industry where he used to work.
His quest to develop elicited a new curiosity within him, and he started
approaching organizations far outside the borders of his country as well.
One day, while he was daydreaming in his small, but state-of-the-art
workplace that he had built annex to his house, the middle-aged woman in
khaki appeared. "Congratulations, my friend, you did it!" she said
smilingly. "Now letÆs see, what have you gained in the past few months? You
became an independent worker: your own boss, and you feel good about this
responsibility. In fact, you feel so good about it that your creative juices
have been triggered and have flowed richly since then. You have established
connections with companies in countries located in at least 3 continents of
the world. You are about to do some nice traveling in the near future, and
will make yourself familiar with the world "out there". Your Rolodex looks
good: it has at least 17 new names in it. You became multi-facetted. You see
yourself as an organization nowadays, and not as the victimized worker you
used to be. Heck, you have even been contemplating to write a technical
guide for your line of expertise! You simply took the challenge that was
placed on your path by that "overseas character" that stole your job, and
transformed it into an opportunity for yourself. You learned from his
example, and really got yourself going! And throughout this entire mental
crash course you took, you also learned about self-respect, respect for
others, the essence of familiarity with various cultures, and the overall
importance of being proactive. But do you know the main message that life
conferred to you in the past months?"
The genius didnÆt even have to think about that one: "I have learned that
there is a misunderstood genius in all of us, and that we have a choice: We
can either dwell on the aggravation of being neglected or misunderstood, and
make the world an increasingly worse place for ourselves and all others
around us, or we can change our attitude and find other ways to earn
recognition for our genius. The secret lies in searching, persevering, and
The woman in khaki winked and disappearedàand the genius woke up from his
refreshing afternoon napà.
Joan Marques, Ed.D.
Burbank, May 18, 2004
About the Author:
Joan Marques emigrated from Suriname, South America, to California, U.S., in
1998. She holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, a MasterÆs in
Business Administration, and is currently a university instructor in
Business and Management in Burbank, California. You may visit her web sites
at http://www.joanmarques.com <http://www.joanmarques.com/> and
Joans manual "Feel Good About Yourself," a six part series to get you over
the bumps in life and onto success, can be purchased and downloaded at:
It is better to live in serene poverty than in hectic affluence. Everything
has a price. The price for nurturing your soul is turning away from
excessive stress, destruction of self-respect, and the constant strive in
lifestyle with the Joneses. But itÆs worth it.
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