You’re Not Born A Genius… It’s A Skill.

Do you remember Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting?

Now, for many people, this guy was the picture of ‘Genius’. Bright and sparky and seemingly ‘naturally born’ with the ability to conjure everything into Maths.

I’m so sorry to burst your bubble. But Good Will Hunting is far from reality. Research has shown that intelligence is grown, not gifted by the grace of your DNA.

Let me show you why becoming a genius at a subject is possible for anyone.

Practice with Intention

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a seminal book called Outliers. It’s a good read, although slightly exaggerated.

The essence of his book is that people who achieve amazing things in life had worked consistently and in a manner that stretched themselves, for 10,000 hours+.

Take a pinch of salt here. 10,000 hours is a tangible ballpark metric, rather than a hard and fast rule. But the science shows: if you put in the work and stretch yourself each time, becoming one of the top 1% in that field is more than possible.

The key is to practice right. If you are just repeating what the coach or teacher is doing, you will be mediocre. If you take it to the next level, setting goals and stretching your study, you can begin to piece that intelligence together. Your brain will fire the ‘chunks’ of all that information you’ve learned together. It will be able to spot patterns. It will be able to grasp that subject better than the 99% of others who do not try as consistently or with the same levels of effort.

My Story

I can’t tell you how frustrated I was in school. How many times would I see on my school report ‘Could try harder’ or ‘Needs to do more’ written down……. it was so frustrating.

Because I was trying my best. I could not do more.

But in 5th year, it all began to click. It clicked when I changed how I approached my study.

I remember Ms Sheehan (My business teacher) saying to me that I needed to test myself every Saturday. On those key subjects, I should set weekly goals and do weekly ‘Fish bone’ diagrams on their key points. I forced myself to make sense of each topic, of each subject.

I honed in on what was important. I spent those Saturday mornings fine-tuning my knowledge of the ‘big picture’ of the Leaving Cert exams. Slowly and steadily, my grades crept up. In the end, I went from achieving maybe in the 60th percentile in my class at the end of 5th year to becoming student of the year after my Leaving Cert. I’d nailed the Leaving Cert.

And I look back thinking I nailed it because of my work. Because I pushed my brain. Because I put in consistent work. Because I challenged myself.

It’s all possible — if you put in the work.

T.J — CEO of Breakthrough Maths.

Need help in Maths? Contact the Breakthrough Maths team here.

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