Hi! I’m here to help you turn genius amnesia into the joys of being the genius you were born to be.
Never heard about genius amnesia? I hadn’t either until the phrase popped into my mind during a shower in 2012.
How a Shower Taught Me What I Want to Teach You
There’s always something magic about getting naked, standing under a shower, affirming the clarity I seek, and letting the hot water clear away obsessive thoughts and brain fog. By the time I stepped into that shower, I had been working eight years on a book about our natural capacity to see clearly what is, imagine what can be, discern what’s true for us, then creatively turn vision into thriving reality. Eager to finish it, I began the shower with an affirmation, “I choose to see clearly what’s blocking the completion of my book on vision and what I need to do to finish it.”
Soon after came the unbidden clue, “genius amnesia.” I asked my husband John to research his cherished Latin dictionaries. There he found the ancient definition, basically guidance + natural inclinations + talents, with nothing about high IQ or achievement.
Soon I realized that much of what I’d learned for many years about visioning related to ancient and cutting edge wisdom about guidance. Talents as an aspect of genius I understood well, particularly through the works of Barbara Sher. But what were “natural inclinations,” and what does it mean to “forget genius?”
Then I saw how much genius amnesia had crippled my life for many years. I just hadn’t recognized it as such.
Learning from My Own Struggles with Genius Amnesia
After my mother died when I was only 13, I thought I was supposed to become a doctor and cure the illness that had killed her. When that dream failed in pre-med, I was lost but afraid to admit it and unwilling to ask for help. After graduation, I began the first of many promising but ultimately wrong jobs.
By 29, I was an expert in looking for love and work in all the wrong places. Then I checked out the human potential movement, which led to my sampling bioenergetics, one of the many body-mind-spirit therapies that were popular then.
The first session was so strange that I would have run out the room had I not still been so well brought up to be a polite, inoffensive Southern woman. Then suddenly, as I obeyed the leader’s instructions to lie on the floor, knees bent, arms lifted into the air as if reaching for someone, breathe deep into the belly and say, “Mama!” I broke into full-body sobs.
For maybe twenty minutes I cried, aided occasionally by the leader’s massage on muscles in my belly and chest. Then finally cried out, I sat up to a new world – one where people looked friendlier, I felt lighter, and the air sparkled.
Over the next few months, many repressed childhood gifts returned. Awe and wonder made ordinary moments come alive in many dimensions. Curiosity, hope and the natural spirituality my parents had nurtured returned. My instincts became sharper, and I began having flashes of intuition. Awareness of anger took longer to return, as its expression in any form had been so taboo in my family, but soon I could see the value in knowing when I was angry but not using anger as an excuse to behave badly.
Trustworthy Guidance Comes through Many channels, for Many Reasons.
As a child, I was blessed with parents who passionately promoted creativity, integrity, learning, experimentation and a natural spirituality anchored in the wonders of all creation. From their stories, I learned how they had been guided by stories (from Greek and Roman myths to current affairs), and by the people who had inspired them and their challenges. We stretched our imaginations together as we watched clouds shape themselves into ever-changing patterns and told tales about what we saw.
I learned from them the rudiments of designing furniture and a house, designing and making clothes, turning an idea into a story, making up songs, and creating an organization to follow a dream. Later teachers added many ways to welcome ideas and inspiration, to shape a vision, and to build it with the help of others.
From the time that I was 8, the lives of Albert Schweitzer and those who worked with him had inspired and taught me. Out of that came my own model for everydayvisionquesting.
Intuition and an Inner Voice Are Increasingly Important.
In the early summer of 1982, I woke up knowing I had to visit my grandparents two states away the next day, not wait until later in the summer as planned. Had I not heeded that intuition, I would have missed my last and most meaningful opportunity to be with my grandmother. Had my boyfriend John Sullivan not gone with me, he and my grandmother would never have met, for she died the day after we returned home.
Through tough times in the 1990’s when John was out of work and I had to take on a high-stress legal job, I could not have survived the firm’s three downsizings without inner guidance to bring all the spirit and creativity I longed to put into work that truly called me into that unloved legal job. When the first of three relatives across the country was diagnosed with fatal illness and I had to work a lot of overtime to pay for plane trips, that guidance gave me extra energy and efficiency.
Eventually I learned how to bring my creative genius to honor the heart and soul of the legal profession. That led to a column on spirit and work for the San Francisco Chronicle, to the book Work with Meaning, Work with Joy, and many articles in the field. One of the Chronicle pieces is in the American Bar Association’s best-selling book, Lawyers as Peacemakers, by my friend Kim Wright.
During a breast cancer biopsy a year ago, my stress turned quickly to curiosity, even as I saw that there were two lumps, not one. Throughout treatment, my inner voice was crucial to my wellbeing. It continues to be there as John and I go through the challenges of a 31-year marriage and growing older. It’s there as John and I work together to finish his fantasy novel about a cat wizard that he started several decades ago and as I finish a book on the unique genius of people over 50. Fortunately, there’s a lot of it!
From Natural Genius to Everyday Genius That Gets Better with Age
Soon after John gave me the old definition of genius in 2012, I realized that imagination, awe, intuition, the drive to express ourselves, emotions and other gifts I’d so long ago reclaimed and learned to help others reclaim are the “natural inclinations” part of genius.
I saw how my many years of training in various practices for receiving guidance, focusing visions and strategic planning relate to the grown-up, guidance aspect of genius. This also fit well with wisdom from many cultures about how we can tap the guidance within our own hearts and minds, even when we gratefully and humbly have to admit that sometimes the best guidance comes from sources outside ourselves.
It’s exciting to be of a generation where many of us are just getting creatively warmed up at ages that once would have relegated us to our rocking chairs. We honed our wisdom teeth on paradigm-shifting social movements when we were young. Now we’re paradigm-shifting what it means to age deliciously.
My current theme song is “I’ve Got a Lotta Livin’ To Do.” That’s got a much richer meaning now than it did in the 1960’s!
I’d love to help you create a world that matters, as defined by your core values.
We will work together to help you
- rediscover the natural genius you may have given up while growing up;
- discover how to be our own guide to fulfilling, authentic life and work;
- focus brilliant visions for your work and life and create inspired strategy for fulfilling your visions;
- live and work with integrity, purpose, and joy;
- obtain funding and other support for a business or nonprofit venture;
- have plenty of time and energy to enjoy life;
- leave a rich (not necessarily big money) legacy.
I’ve got a lot of wisdom from myself and others to pass on. Hopefully, I’ll do it in the spirit of my mother’s daily chats over coffee and cake with her best friend: lots of laughter, sometimes tears, no shyness about saying “Try this!” but without pushing.
As for this website: I hope that you may find and enjoy here connections to the growing body of wisdom about visionary development, genius, conscious eldering, spirituality and work, conscious capitalism, and other wonderful things that typically get short shrift in the mainstream media. Especially enjoy the many stories of role models. And as Mama and her best friend did, be sure to add your own tips and inspiration!
Many blessings, Pat McHenry Sullivan