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Human Potential

Albert Einstein at blackboardThe more that is found out about the human brain the more amazing and remarkable it appears to be. And so this begs the question of what is the extent of our mental capabilities and whether there are significant limitations to what we are capable of.

Throughout history there have always been the Leonardo da Vincis, Beethovens and Einsteins, creative geniuses who have provided us with a yardstick for what we all may be capable of. But it must, of course, be asked whether such individuals are in some sense 'freaks', having brains which are distinctly different from those of the mass of the population. In other words, to what extent is genius a result of nature or nurture? The evidence appears to indicate that nurture has a significant part to play in the creation of genius, and that given appropriate 'external' conditions we all have enormous potential to move far beyond the range of our present performance.

Moving Beyond our Present Boundaries

Evidence that creative genius is not inborn, but is available to all is readily available. Consider the following:

  • The myth of the 'gifted' musician
    Research indicates that brilliance as a musician is not inborn, but is the result of having supportive parents, a kind teacher and putting in thousands of hours of practice.
  • Autistic savants
    The scope of what may someday become available to all of us is demonstrated by the truly amazing mental abilities of autistic savants. For example, Daniel Tammet ("the boy with the incredible brain") can do extremely complicated calculations at breakneck speed, and he learnt to converse in Icelandic in just a week. And there is Kim Peek, who was the inspiration for the film Rain Man. Such is the power of his memory that he has been described as "a living Google".
  • Artistic talent
    Betty Edwards has demonstrated that we are all capable of being excellent artists, and that in order to achieve this all that is necessary is to learn how to use our brains in a different way, i.e. by switching to "right mode" (see Drawing). More generally, Inner Game methods can enable us to achieve excellence in a wide range of activities.
  • Expectation
    Merely by raising people's expectations of what they can accomplish can have a powerful effect on performance. This is a key element of many learning theories, and it is used to great advantage in learning systems such as accelerated learning and Suggestopedia.
  • Personal effectiveness
    There are many factors which contribute to personal effectiveness and which can help individuals to reach their true potential. Such factors are explored on the Personal Development track.

Further Information

For further information about human potential see:

A genius explains - Daniel Tammet by Richard   Johnson
Limits to Human Potential by Anthony Judge
Neuroscience for Kids - Einstein's Brain - Brain Enhancement Information
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Page last modified: 23 October 2008
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