The Genius in All of Us

New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ
by David Shenk | 380 pages

David Shenk is the award-winning and national-bestselling author of six books. He’s also a lecturer and filmmaker. His primary focus with this book is shining a bright light on the fact that the “Nature vs. Nurture” paradigm is a VERY limited way of looking at things. He tells us that the interaction between our genes and our environment is a much more nuanced, DYNAMIC PROCESS. Big Ideas we explore include Genes 1.0 vs. Genes 2.0 (think G+E vs. GxE), the Mozart Myth (remember: Talent is overrated!), deliberate practice (is where it's at), and how to be a genius (or merely great).


“This new paradigm does not herald a simple shift from ‘nature’ to ‘nurture.’ Instead, it reveals how bankrupt the phrase ‘nature versus nurture’ really is and demands a whole new consideration of how each of us becomes us. This book begins, therefore, with a surprising new explanation of how genes work, followed by a detailed look at the newly visible building blocks of talent and intelligence. Taken together, a new picture emerges of a fascinating developmental process that we can influence—though never fully control—as individuals, as families, and as a talent-promoting society. While essentially hopeful, the new paradigm also raises unsettling new moral questions with which we all will have to grapple.

The Genius in All of Us is a provocative title, and it would be easy to get the wrong impression. So let me try to defuse any potential misunderstandings: I am not arguing that every human being can become a genius. (Nor would we want a world with that many geniuses.) I am not arguing that we all have exactly the same potential. I am not arguing that genes and genetic differences don’t strongly influence who we are and what we can become.

I am arguing that very few of us ever get to know our own true potential, and that many of us mistake early difficulties for innate limits. I am arguing that genetic influence itself is not predetermined, but an ongoing dynamic process. Not even genetic clones have exactly the same potential, because genes actually depend on environmental inputs to help determine how they get expressed. The genius-in-all-of-us is not some hidden brilliance buried inside of our genes. It is the very design of the human genome—built to adapt to the world around us and to the demands we put on ourselves. With humility, hope, and with extraordinary determination, greatness is something to which any kid—of any age—can aspire.”

~ David Shenk from The Genius in All of Us

I’m not sure how I discovered this book.

What I do know is that when I saw the title I immediately got it to make sure we’re exploring the subject of how to best tap into our potential from as many different angles as possible.

It falls into the same basic genre as The Talent Code, Talent Is Overrated, Outliers, Mindset, Self-Theories, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and Grit. And, as you’d expect, this book leans heavily on Anders Ericsson’s research that we cover in our Notes on his book Peak.

David Shenk is the award-winning and national-bestselling author of six books. He’s also a lecturer and filmmaker.

His primary focus with this book is shining a bright light on the fact that the “Nature vs. Nurture” paradigm is a VERY limited way of looking at things. He tells us that the interaction between our genes and our environment is a much more nuanced, DYNAMIC PROCESS.

The book is packed with fascinating research and practical Big Ideas. (Get a copy here.) I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

Unlock the full Optimize Experience

Get instant access to a ton of wisdom. Optimize every facet of your life. Actualize your potential.

Start free trial

About the author

Authors

David Shenk

American writer, lecturer, and filmmaker.