Genius, pt. XIX

The last chapter of Eric Weiner’s “The Geography of Genius” is about the most recent place of genius: Silicon Valley, the birthplace of Apple. As Eric Weiner wrote in his book, people are still debating whether Steve Jobs was a genius or not. I wasn’t sure whether I agreed or disagreed that Steve Jobs was a genius and Silicon Valley a place of genius, but there were a lot of things in the last chapter that I thought were interesting and maybe even true.

One of these things was about optimism and how America has a lot of it and how a certain amount of it “is a prerequisite for genius” because “despite the image of the brooding genius, creative scientists tend to be more optimistic than their less creative peers. One study found that optimistic employees are more creative than pessimistic ones. And you don’t get more optimistic than Silicon Valley.”

“‘Brutally optimistic’ is how one local put it. Anywhere else in the country, he explains, your new idea is met with an avalanche of reasons why it won’t work; in Silicon Valley, it’s met with a challenge. Why don’t you do it? What are you waiting for?”

I try to be optimistic and, as I told one student, I try not to ask “why?” but “why not?” instead when I decide to start doing or learning or making something. I agree that “a certain amount” of optimism is important because it can keep us going, which is the most important thing in doing anything.