When people think of “smart,” they often think of Albert Einstein.
He pondered the universe, and came up with things like “The Theory of Relativity.” I asked some friends what the theory of relativity was, and nobody could really explain it. They knew they studied it in school, but couldn’t remember it beyond the test.
We assume Einstein was smart, because we don’t understand him. We say, “He thought at a whole different level, and it’s beyond me. So he was way smarter than me.”
Maybe it was the hair. People who think deeply might not have time left over for grooming.
The problem is that we see what he accomplished (and others like him), and think, “I could never do that. I don’t have much to contribute.”
In fact, people often say, “I’m no Einstein.”
We’re not Einstein. Never have been, never will be. We can’t make the contribution that Einstein made.
We can make a contribution that nobody else in the universe can make.
If we don’t make it, we’re robbing the world of that contribution.
So, what was the difference? Why did Einstein make such a big contribution, and we don’t?
I’ve pondered that, and I think I’ve figured it out:
Einstein didn’t have email.
Seriously. The reason he came up with such great ideas was probably because he didn’t have as many distractions.
Bring him forward a few decades to the present day. Imagine Einstein sitting at his desk, pondering the universe. But he gets stuck on an idea, and isn’t sure where to go with it.
So he checks his email. Or Facebook. Or he tweets his friends, and reads their posts.
He tries pondering again, but his thoughts about the universe still don’t go anywhere.
So he grabs his smartphone and tries to improve his scores on Candy Crush. Just for a few minutes, of course.
Little distractions keep us from being focused. But more than that, they take our momentum. It takes a while to ramp up again after each one.
I don’t think Einstein was that different than us. We have the potential to make a universe-sized contribution that nobody else could make – including Einstein.
As long as we don’t get distracted.
What’s something significant that you’ve been working on – something that could really make a difference if you figured it out and finished it? Something that’s hard enough (but important enough) that it takes energy and focus?
Now – when you put time into it, how often do you get distracted? And what is the distraction?
What would happen if you could control the distractions?
It could change everything.
Einstein was probably a focused version of us. In fact, he once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
Ready to make a difference?
So, put the smartphone down slowly, and nobody gets hurt . . .
(By the way – Einstein had a simple way of describing the theory of relativity: “When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”)