Or so it would seem. Sometimes, everyone has a good day and does or says something brilliant. We’re all capable of brilliance and it’s a very satisfying moment when you come up with something you know is special. You would think that the rest of the world would welcome and embrace your moment of brilliance with open arms, wouldn’t you? Sadly, this is often not the case.
Often, the brilliance just shared is regarded as threatening. It can make those who feel themselves less than brilliant fearful, resentful and jealous. We live in a culture that prefers the lowest common denominator to the outstanding, so those that exhibit momentary brilliance are frequently subject to censure and disapproval. They might even be ostracised or criticised. Brilliance makes the rest of those around the pronouncer or producer of the brilliant thing feel inferior. It’s an irrational sort of feeling, if you look at it dispassionately and rationally, but commonplace. After all, why should somebody else’s achievement diminish you in any material or spiritual way at all? It’s an absurd proposition.
Worse than that, because we believe in dog-eat-dog competition as an article of market faith and a societal mantra, those that exhibit even glimpses of outstanding thought or action must be suppressed, before they supposedly take what others have, in an imaginary zero-sum game. In the playground, this manifests as bullying. What isn’t recognised is that there is much more of everything to go around, if we are all brilliant, more of the time. Heaven help the person that is brilliant often and consistently.
Why should this be? Why are people so willing to denigrate and devalue brilliance, just to make themselves feel better? Doesn’t this speak to a mass lack of self-confidence and to a culture that cuts down the tallest poppies relentlessly? Isn’t that a side effect of a default hierarchy of authority and control, where the masses must be kept under the thumb by the designated leaders?
Is this how we want our kids to be? Do we want our children to have the confidence and security of displaying their brilliance as a matter of course, or do we want them to hide their lights under bushels and pretend to be stupider and less inspired than they actually are? Do we want them to constantly apologise for just having good thoughts or making wonderful things, or would we prefer them to realise their full potentials? What does the world of work say to those kids about being outstanding, even if only for a brief moment? Are they raised up, or kept down? Do they receive recognition and acclaim, or opprobrium and casual dismissal of their ideas?
You might have experienced these negative reactions to your own brilliance. Perhaps it taught you to keep quiet and not make a noise. Perhaps it stopped you from having your voice. You might have formed the impression that you are unacceptable, not good enough or that you are unwelcome. However it affected you, if you become less brilliant than you ordinarily are, through self censorship, feelings of guilt and embarrassment or inhibition, we all lose something valuable and precious. It impoverishes us all.
So keep on being brilliant.