It Only Takes 1 Step to Become a Super Successful, Bona Fide Genius

UPDATED: June 8, 2023
PUBLISHED: September 25, 2015

Upon waking up from a life-threatening surgery to remove cancer from his pancreas, Steve Jobs promptly ripped off his oxygen mask, inspected it closely, declared the design unbearably inferior, threw it on the ground and demanded that his surgeon design a better one immediately. More on that in a minute.  

Geniuses are cool, don’t you agree? I mean they buck the system, ignore social norms, invent and create mind-blowing things, rarely comb their hair, write viral articles for, make lots of money, and disturbingly often go completely crazy by doing quasi-questionable stuff like cutting off duplicate facial organs, starting innovative cults, writing run-on sentences and killing themselves once they feel they’ve contributed to the world quite enough already.  

The good news? You too can put your mental health on the line, be a genius, create cool things and probably get really rich (and/or possibly clinically insane) in the process! This article is here to show you how in… One. Simple. Step.

But before we get into the nuts and bolts of this whole one-step process, let’s do a quick exercise just to make sure you fully understand the inherent coolness of geniuses and the necessity of you becoming one ASAP*

Take a quick look around you and list all the inanimate and animate objects. Soooo, that’s every object, just in case you’re unclear. It doesn’t matter where you are for this to work. I’m actually doing the exercise with you, too, hopefully to figure out where I’m going with this article exactly.

So for me, I’m looking at an Apple computer screen, a toilet, a globe that spins when the sun hits it (it’s not spinning, but it might be broken), a palm tree, a microphone, a stack of books, three Spanish women and a yo-yo.

Now realize that a genius invented or created every single one of these things—everything on your list and everything on my list, including the Spanish women.

Bonus Blog Riddle: Who invented the Spanish women, and where am I right now? Answer correctly in a comment below and win a free bonus blog article written by Yours Truly, claimable right here on in about 30 days or so. You will be the only person who can see it, I swear.

Now take a quick look around at everything besides inanimate and animate objects. And that’s absolutely nothing in case you’re on the far dumber end of the genius spectrum. This is what people who are not geniuses have created.

Also worth mentioning is that geniuses know when, where and how often to italicize things. I’m not exactly sure what that means for me, but we’ll find out when I see what my editor does to this masterpiece. [Editor’s note: Nothing.]

So what have we learned so far? Not much unfortunately. But I think we’ve established the groundwork that geniuses create and italicize almost absolutely everything, and everyone else… I dunno… is working for the geniuses I guess.  Geniuses “make the world go round” as they say.

Have you ever wondered where that saying, “makes the world go round,” came from? No, you haven’t. Only a genius would wonder something crazy like that. It came from Pythagoras’ discovery in 6th century BC that the earth wasn’t a flat square—it was round (still is). Do you get it? He made the world go round.

That’s actually not where that saying came from. But it helps make my as-of-yet-unclear-point because the genius Pythagoras was not only the inventor of the Pythagorean theorem that you loved barely understanding just long enough to take the final exam in high school. He was also the inventor of the religion Pythagoreanism, which, among other bizarre things, boldly proclaims that all beans are evil. Not metaphorical or mystical, mind you. Just regular beans—the ones Paleo dieters refuse to eat for some mystical reason. Wait. Now that I think about it, there may be something to this bean thing. Do me a favor. Google, “Did Preston become a Pythagoreanist after writing his article?” in like two months or so. Have me Baker Acted if the answers come back in the affirmative. [Editor’s note: I had to look it up. A Baker Act means providing someone emergency mental health services, including involuntary detention, when required. If you already knew that, congrats. You and Preston are certified geniuses.] I’m writing this now while I know for sure I think I’m still sane.

Now… Do you see what I just did in that last paragraph? I don’t. But I have a sneaking suspicion it’s a prime example of the cool sort of stuff bona fide geniuses do. I basically blacked out for two minutes, came to, and BAM… that paragraph was on the screen. To me it seems near impossible that any sane regular person could have written it, but I’m open to severe criticism in comments below. Intense, spiteful, ruthless cyber-criticism is how I grow and improve.

Here’s my point. You may have started suspecting we’d never actually get to it, but here it actually is:

You should want to become a genius, despite the inherent job hazard of permanent psychosis. And you can do so in one simple step. Are you ready for it?

Are you sure?

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Step 1:

Open up.

The end.

I know. You’re disappointed. But before you click out and go do something more practical with your time, maybe let me explain a little. It’s important to understand the power of openness and your power to kid yourself into thinking you’re open, when in my personal experience only about 1 percent of the round earth’s population actually is.

Open mindedness is the very foundation to learning and creating—learning being the prerequisite of creating. Being genuinely open to truth facilitates learning, and being open to the spiritual world that the mind operates in enables creating. Closed mindedness, on the other hand, is the very foundation of you and me never being able to be friends. I mean I may fake like I like you, but just between you and me… I’m faking it.

The problem is that both truth and the spiritual world are scary.

Now let’s take a look at this:


The world’s first ever Closed/Open Genius scale??!! Man I don’t know how I do this, but it is freaking frightening. Good thing I know the secret to being a super genius and not going crazy** or I would for SURE be flying directly into the cuckoo’s nest right now.

This simple Closed/Open Genius scale perfectly illustrates both why you need to become more open minded and why you’re currently telling yourself you’re open minded when you’re currently probably not.

Follow me closely here because I have no idea where we’re going, and I don’t want you to get lost…

Geniuses are geniuses because they have the balls of bronze it takes to open themselves up fully to the absolute terror that is ultimate truth, as well as the self-oblivion that the creative/spiritual world demands as the price of entry.

You may want to copy and paste that last sentence into your list of favorite quotes. I’ll give you a second to go ahead and do that.

Let me say it again, but in a slightly different way to help this really sink in.

Geniuses cut their ears off (Leonardo Da Vinci cut his ear off in case you’re a 1 or a 2 on the scale above), start cults and kill themselves because they have the balls of bronze it takes to open themselves up fully to the absolute terror that ultimate truth offers, as well as the self-oblivion that the creative/spiritual world demands as the price of entry. [Editor’s note: Genius, it was Vincent Van Gogh who cut off his ear.]

Now, I’m using extreme examples with the whole ear/cult/suicide thing, but that’s just to overstate my point for the sake of clarity and make this “funner” to read. Joshua Kendall wrote a great book called America’s Obsessives that set out to prove that all great men and women are crazy to some degree. And he proved it with a lot of very convincing examples.

Look at the scale again. Almost nobody wants to be broke, and nobody wants to lose his or her mind. That’s why the 99 percent are content to be #5 normal human beings—delusion is the safest place to be. #5’s have a subconscious fear of insanity coupled with the unwillingness to holistically self-develop to the point that would allow them to crank open their mental faucet and consider that everything they’ve ever believed about life might be wrong without losing their grip. So basically people are scared and lazy.

Do you understand the profundity of what I’m telling you right now? Are you open to the fact that you might think you’re open when you’re actually not very open? Read that question again and think long and hard about it before answering. Personally my answer is “yes.” And I’m so open it scares my mother (who happens to be pretty darn open herself).

Here’s a good test to see just how open you aren’t:

Do you have any theories about life that, on (and under) the surface, seem a little bizarre? I have quite a few. For instance I am 79 percent sure we’re living in a virtual world, and what we consider “us” are actually avatars controlled to a degree by the real us in another dimension. So basically this world is one big video game, and free will is an illusion.

Are you open to the fact that my theory could be true? There are quantum physicists who claim to have proved at least part of it. Are you smarter than a physicist? Can you prove it’s not true? If you can’t prove it’s not true, then you should logically be fully open to the fact that it certainly could be true.

Here are a few more Openness barometers of sorts:

1. If other people don’t think you’re crazy, even at least to a degree? You’re a 5. People thought Theodore Roosevelt was literally out-of-his-mind nutso. In reality, politics aside, he was one of the greatest men that ever lived (read The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt to become more manly). People called the Apostle Paul crazy. They called Jesus crazy. They call everyone crazy who is chasing truth and making a difference in the world.

2. If you do not feel the danger of insanity—if you’re not routinely standing on the slippery slope of psychosis looking, but not going down—you’re not thinking hard, deep or honestly enough. You’re also not reading enough. You’re not a true seeker. You’re not fully open. And you’re almost certainly believing lies to protect yourself from discovering ultimate truth, which would require you to take ultimate action that you know you’re not prepared to take. Because I’ll tell you this… Ultimate reality is scary as a mofo. And it demands the ultimate payment: your life. That’s why most people prefer #5 delusion. It’s safe and comfortable.

I will leave you with this final thought: Steve Jobs was a bona fide certifiable genius who revolutionized the way this world stopped communicating via time-wasting, direct face-to-face encounters. Do not be even mildly open to anyone who says different.

On a serious note, he created stuff about as cool as cool gets.

Steve Jobs also…

…was OCD.
…had a fear of dirt and typos.
…was a clinical narcissist.
…while recovering from life threatening surgery, made his doctor bring him seven different types of vegetable juice, tasted them all and refused to eat because they sucked.
…committed slow suicide by eating nothing but fruit his entire adult life.

The price of genius is openness. The danger of openness is psychosis. But the payoff of openness is greatness. Get a grip and go there.

“To be super successful like Jobs, you also need that X-factor, that maniacal overdrive—which often comes from being a tad mad.” – JOSHUA KENDALL, America’s Obsessives


*A genius invented this acronym.
** The secret is Jesus. Crazy, I know. The secret is also to stay between levels 8 and 9. Any genuine truth seeker will come to some strong convictions about what is real in this world. Be closed minded about those. Your convictions are your lifeline.

Did you know there’s a direct correlation between high levels of intelligence and success in life? So, go on, check out 5 smart ways to increase your IQ.


Preston Ely is founder and CEO of, an Inc. magazine “Fastest Growing Company.” He has built and sold multiple businesses and was recently voted one of Fast Company’s “Most Influential People On The Internet.” He makes $0 a year teaching success principles; he makes millions of dollars a year applying them to his own life and businesses. He writes articles for for the fun of it. Check him out at

Preston Ely is founder and CEO of, an Inc. magazine "Fastest Growing Company." He has built and sold multiple businesses and was recently voted one of Fast Company's "Most Influential People On The Internet." He makes $0 a year teaching success principles; he makes millions of dollars a year applying them to his own life and businesses. He writes articles for for the fun of it. Follow him at, on Facebook and on Twitter.