Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

    Eccentric does not mean genius

    Popular belief these days seems to hold the idea that eccentricity is a mark of genius or at least high creativity even to the extent of pretty much every entertainment out there depicts geniuses and highly creative people also as highly eccentric as demonstrated, for example, by Gregory House. This idea is so deeply rooted in our society that there are people out there faking eccentricity purely for the sake of making themselves look more creative as is demonstrated by many rock stars who often have music written and composed for them, but they act eccentric anyway just to make people believe how creative they are.

    However this belief is false, there are certain correlations, of course, but not such as most people tend to believe there are. To tackle this question we should first and foremost define what eccentricity is and this is where it gets tricky. Everyone agrees that any behaviour outside the norm is eccentric, but just what is this norm? Most people don't act completely like one another which blurs the "normal" a great deal. So let's say "normal" is so and so wide, how far outside the norm can we go to avoid being simply weird rather than just eccentric? This is even less defined, to some Marilyn Manson is crazy, to many just eccentric, to some John Nash (as depicted in A Beautiful Mind) was weird and asocial, to some merely a tad eccentric.

    So we find eccentricity is defined as being outside the bounds of normal, but still within bounds of mentally normal. What? It's a strange concept obviously. But let's look more into the correlation between eccentric, genius and creative. My understanding is that there is an eccentric (to a degree) inside all of us, it's just that most people are far too concerned with how others perceive them to ever act on those eccentric urges. They fear. Whereas geniuses, or merely very smart people, are at a higher level of understanding and simply don't care about what others think. They understand the only thing that matters is the end result and that if they achieve what they were supposed to, if they create, invent, develop, design, think, whatever nobody will really mind anything they do as long as it is within the bounds of the law.

    On the other hand we have creative people who also act eccentrically, these are your average folks, not geniuses, who simply have a vivid imagination. With these, I believe, eccentricity stems more from the constant need of feeding that imagination, they get so absorbed in it they forget there were social norms they're supposed to follow. Also one has to consider how much a person' creativity rises if they simply live a creative lifestyle, if they do stupid fun things just to keep their creative juices flowing.

    So, to conclude, I don't believe eccentricity is a mark of genius and creativity, I rather believe that eccentricity simply shows someone is a tad different; be it a higher intellect or higher creativity, such a person simply cannot be expected to follow the same behavioral patterns as the drones.

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Published on September 23rd, 2008 in food for thought,

    Learned something new?
    Read more Software Engineering Lessons from Production

    I write articles with real insight into the career and skills of a modern software engineer. "Raw and honest from the heart!" as one reader described them. Fueled by lessons learned over 20 years of building production code for side-projects, small businesses, and hyper growth startups. Both successful and not.

    Subscribe below 👇

    Software Engineering Lessons from Production

    Join Swizec's Newsletter and get insightful emails 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.

    "Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

    ~ Ashish Kumar

    Join 15,883+ engineers learning lessons from my "raw and honest from the heart" emails.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
    4.5 stars average rating

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? Hit me up on twitter and I'll do my best.

    Who am I and who do I help? I'm Swizec Teller and I turn coders into engineers with "Raw and honest from the heart!" writing. No bullshit. Real insights into the career and skills of a modern software engineer.

    Want to become a true senior engineer? Take ownership, have autonomy, and be a force multiplier on your team. The Senior Engineer Mindset ebook can help 👉 swizec.com/senior-mindset. These are the shifts in mindset that unlocked my career.

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, for frontend engineers 👉 ServerlessHandbook.dev

    Want to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own? Learn how to build scalable dataviz React components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Want to get my best emails on JavaScript, React, Serverless, Fullstack Web, or Indie Hacking? Check out swizec.com/collections

    Want to brush up on modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    Did someone amazing share this letter with you? Wonderful! You can sign up for my weekly letters for software engineers on their path to greatness, here: swizec.com/blog

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️