Everybody is a genius

Richard Branson high fives a woman, side profile
Image from Audrey Robertson
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 22 March 2017

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein is often credited with this wonderful quote, but it may actually have come from a variety of different sources, which is quite fitting given its subject matter. It takes all sorts of people with all sorts of different talents and skills to create positive things in the world.

The ‘Einstein’ quote led to this oft-shared image of our education system. While a bird, a monkey, a penguin, a fish, a seal and a dog line up, an official says: "For a fair selection everybody has to take the same exam: please climb that tree.”

It is foolish to judge everybody by the same set of metrics, while not taking into account their individual strengths and weaknesses. But this is what happened while I was at school, and still goes on today. It was one of the topics we discussed at our recent gathering discussing Reimagining Education.

Silhouette of Richard Branson in a pensive state
Image by Joann McPike

Every individual should be allowed to pursue their own interests and develop their own strengths, rather than focus on what does not interest or apply to them. We all shine more when we are given the freedom to work on what we love.

Richard Branson in a group with four others.  Their arms are around each other and they're kicking their legs into the air
Image by Exchange Photos

Just because we are not so great in certain areas, it doesn’t mean we should feel inferior or be made to feel bad about ourselves. In fact, our differences should be celebrated and embraced, not stifled.