Published on May 24, 2017
Updated on Dec. 12, 2019
Several years ago, my younger sister and I signed up to build catapults for the school science fair. The entire gym started laughing and whispering to each other when it was her turn to launch an egg across the gym.
Her catapult, a plastic cup on the end of a willow branch nailed to a two by four, looked so scrawny and inadequate
next to everyone else’s, including mine. I had made a giant monster of gears and hinges like nearly every other competitor. I had conformed, giving up my individuality for fear of taking a chance and being made fun of. She stepped up to the line, pulled back the branch, and released. She won second place out of every single entry. Combining the knowledge of the flexibility of willow branches with some imaginative, outside-the-box thinking brought home the silver medal. I, on the other hand, received no prize. All of the springs and wires I had put together were no match for a little bit of creativity, imagination, and uniqueness.
The great physicist Albert Einstein once said, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Knowledge is being familiar with and understanding something that is commonly known. Imagination is taking what you know and building on it, using it to invent and create and come up with new ideas. This science fair, no matter how insignificant it may seem, was an eye-opener. My sister showed me the importance of using my imagination. She taught me to always be true to myself, no matter what other people may say or think. Following the crowd doesn’t make you better or smarter. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. True intelligence is using knowledge, not just having knowledge. Only someone truly intelligent can take what they know and have the courage to make it into something more.
Intelligence is sadly oftentimes taken for granted. In school, some use intelligence as an excuse to be lazy. Later on, the world can be a brutal wake-up call when all of a sudden intelligence alone doesn’t cut it. No one wakes up in the morning hoping to fail. Yet, there are a lot of brilliant failures in this world. A truly driven person would not feel satisfied with just having knowledge. They would use their knowledge in every way possible. They will work hard, they are dedicated, and they persevere. They seek opportunities endlessly. Opportunities are always presenting themselves, but it’s up to us to put effort in to gain the desired outcome. A gifted person never abandons their talent. They nurture them.
I encourage you to believe in yourself and live up to your full potential. Take pride in your strengths. We are all beautiful in our own unique way. Become familiar with your top five talent themes, and utilize your gifts when trying to reach an academic or career related goal.