Your Hidden Genius

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!” – Anne Frank

I’ve had an emotional attachment to Sylvester Stallone and his Rocky films since 1977. It all began when my then secretary told me she had seen a movie over the weekend that was a “must see” for me. She went on to say that Sylvester Stallone’s success with that first Rocky closely paralleled my own success with my first book.

She explained that Stallone had done it all. He wrote the script, raised the money, played the lead character, and produced the film. Unfortunately, there has been a several-hundred-million-dollar disparity between our respective returns on invested time and energy over the years, but I’m used to such inequities.

I’m still fascinated by Stallone’s amazing rise from troubled teenager to wealthy, famous superstar. Injured at birth, he has had a droopy lip and slurred speech throughout his life, making him as unlikely a movie star as a weightlifter with an Austrian accent and a name most people can’t pronounce.

At 15, his classmates voted him “most likely to end up in the electric chair.” Then, after stumbling from one job to another for several years, Stallone came upon the mother of all stumbles: acting. This happened while he was coaching women’s athletics at the American College of Switzerland.

After some bit parts and a “light” porn film, he wrote his first script, The Lords of Flatbush, in which he cast himself as one of the four main characters. Believe it or not, I actually saw that film back in 1974 – an abysmal piece of work – and I remember Stallone well.

He played a somewhat blubbery hoodlum in a leather jacket – not exactly a matinee idol. At the time, no one could have convinced me that the pudgy guy with the speech impediment would soon become the most famous actor in Hollywood.

What’s so inspiring about Stallone is that his real-life success bears such a close resemblance to the success of his Rocky character. We’ve all read and heard much over the years about how every individual possesses a “hidden genius,” and Stallone’s life is an archetypal example of this. He wrote his first Rocky script in just three days! That is genius – hidden genius, because he had never written a movie script prior to the incredibly bad The Lords of Flatbush, and he had limited experience with acting.

Had Stallone not stumbled onto acting in Switzerland, it’s quite possible he never would have discovered his hidden genius. Just think about that for a second. There would have been no Rocky series, no Rambo series, no Hollywood legend by the name of Sylvester Stallone.

So, clearly, the public at large stands to benefit when someone discovers his hidden genius. That being the case, if you would really like to do something for “society,” you would do well to make a serious effort to discover your hidden genius – then exploit it to the max.

More recently, another hard-case-turned-success has fascinated me. He’s a television personality who discovered his hidden genius only after overcoming the twin demons of drug addiction and alcoholism.

The television personality I am referring to is the ultra-likeable Glenn Beck. There is no television commentator quite like him. He’s funny, knowledgeable, outrageous, polite, self-deprecating, well-spoken, folksy, and, above all, entertaining.

Beck has a nightly show on CNN Headline News, with many reruns throughout the evening and early morning hours. You heard right. CNN, the voice of socialist America, apparently made the decision to throw in the towel and go for ratings instead by bringing a hard-core conservative on board.

What’s amazing about Glenn Beck is that not only has he survived alcoholism and drug addiction, he’s also been through a divorce and, among other things, managed to go relatively unnoticed by the general public for more than two decades.

When Beck’s life was in a shambles, could anyone possibly have imagined that he would some day be a wildly successful television personality? Hardly. On the contrary, I’m sure people saw him as the bum he was.

Yet, beneath his bum exterior was a hidden genius – a genius Beck probably didn’t even know he possessed. His is a natural talent that started to come to the fore when he was exposed to talk radio at an early age, but it did not fully surface until he reached his forties.

All this begs the question: If a guy with a troubled childhood, slurred speech, and a droopy lip could become a film mega-star… and a former alcoholic and drug addict could become a major television personality… what could you accomplish if you could only uncover your hidden genius?

Given that the rewards are so high – not just monetarily, but, even more important, from the standpoint of leading a fulfilling life – isn’t the pursuit of your hidden genius a worthwhile undertaking?

Which brings about the second question: How do you go about such a pursuit?

The short answer is that you need to get out, do things, try things, make calls, network with people – take action. The odds against a person’s finding his hidden genius are overwhelming so long as he chooses to lead a mentally and physically sedentary life.

Remember that when it comes to finding a meaningful purpose in life, the first two questions you should ask yourself are: (1) What do I enjoy? and (2) What am I good at? And the answers to these two questions are also likely to lead you to your hidden genius.

Why? Because if you can find something you both enjoy and are good at, it would appear self-evident that you could accomplish great things by focusing intensely on whatever that one “thing” is.

I recognize that it’s much easier to talk about than actually do. However, the effort is worth it, because it could very well result in your hidden genius coming to the surface… and bringing you all you want in life.

[Ed. Note: Take a gigantic step toward achieving all your personal and professional goals – faster than you ever imagined – with Robert Ringer’s best-selling personal-development program.

Correction: Robert Ringer’s article, originally published on 9/13, incorrectly stated that Sylvester Stallone directed Rocky. John Avildson directed Rocky and Rocky V. Stallone directed Rocky sequels II, III, IV and Rocky Balboa. ]