Genius: being the leader only you can be

“Genius.” The chances are that, if you’ve been called that, it wasn’t a compliment. It was probably someone making fun of you for an idea that was anything but brilliant. But you are a genius. And I mean that in the best possible way.

By “genius” I do not mean that you are stunningly brilliant, or that you have a natural photographic memory, or that you are an incredible self-taught person. I don’t mean that you are the next Einstein, or Zuckerburg, or Jobs. What I mean is that there is something about you that is unique and precious. It is what makes you uniquely you. I disagree with Tyler Durden in Fight Club, when he said, “You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake.” I think you are a genius and the rest of us need your genius.

Some of my friends might wonder if the Jon they know has fallen off the deep end. “What’s all this crazy talk about being a unique and special snowflake?” I’m not talking pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps self-help. This is basic Christian theology. I’m a pastor after all! God doesn’t make junk. If God made you (and I believe he did!), you’re special.

Genius Means Freedom

If you know what you’re good at, that means freedom to pursue your genius. Over the years, people have criticized me or made fun of me for every single one of my strong points. A desire to achieve goals. A push for clarity. An eagerness to learn. Passion for high standards. A contrarian view on some things. Ability to make good decisions quickly.

Why do people pick on other people? Nine times out of ten it is because someone is different than the pack. But the ways you are different than the pack are precisely what make you valuable. It’s your genius. What do you see that others don’t see? What do you easily do that others must work hard at? What pushes (or pulls) you? When you realize how you’re wired, it’s freedom to bring your genius to the table.

Genius Means Permission

If you know what your thing is, that means permission to not be good at everything else. Our culture can pressure us to be omni-competent. You can’t be good at everything. Neither can I. It’s a lie from the pit of hell (literally!). If you think you’re good at everything, you’re more likely halfway decent at everything and actually really good at nothing.

When you understand what makes you tick, you get permission to see and acknowledge your limitations. If you can see your own limitations, you can better understand why you need others. When you know what your thing is and bring it, you then have permission to let others bring their thing. It’s an incredible thing to know who you are, permission to be one part of a larger team.

Genius Means Leadership

If you are busy bringing your genius to the table, that means being the leader only you can be. When you’re doing you, you’re putting out an authenticity and passion that people can relate to even if they don’t have it themselves. Your unique take on life and work can also end up drawing people to you.

This is why it can be a huge mistake to try to mimic some other leader’s approach. What works for one person often does not work for someone else, because they are two different people wired in two different ways. Your unique take on things is what sets you apart. It’s the best way for you to influence others, to truly be a leader.

Personal Update

I’ve been down in Huntsville, Alabama completing the Army’s Command and General Staff Officers’ Course since the first week of January. This is the fourteenth column I have submitted on leadership topics during my training, and I’m expecting to have a couple more before I pack my bags and head back to York. My wife Tiffani and my kids Olivia, Sophia, and Noah have made a huge sacrifice while I have been essentially deployed away from home. Our family is committed to a life of service to the community, but each time it is truly a cost that they pay as individuals and that we pay together as a family. I am grateful for the support of my family.

I’d love to hear from you about what makes you tick. Where do you find your motivation? Is there anything I’ve written here that connects with you? Is there something you would like to see me write about in a future column? Check out anytime or send me an email. You’re a genius. It’s time to lead in the way only you can.


About the author

Dr. Jon Wymer

Jon works as the pastor of York Evangelical Free Church in York, Nebraska. He also serves part-time as a chaplain in the Nebraska Army National Guard and at Nebraska Methodist College in Omaha.

View all posts