Albert Einstein is remembered as one of the greatest minds of history. His name has become a synonym for the word “genius” and to be compared to Einstein is considered as the ultimate compliment. If someone says this to you, then that means that they regard you as being a rare creative intellectually brilliant thinker.
However Einstein faced many struggles towards becoming the genius that he later became. He failed several subjects in primary school and when he finished university, he was not accepted into any doctoral program. He also did not find any work in academia and instead had to get employment as a clerk in a patent office in Bern, Switzerland.
Einstein did not let these initial failures stop him. He was driven and in many ways was self-taught, continuously learning throughout his life.
He was also a family man who wanted his children to succeed. In one of his letters he shared his secret to learning almost anything with his oldest son, Hans Albert:
“I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal.“
His secret was to do things with such enjoyment that you forget the passage of time. You learn the most when you are enjoying what you are doing. His son took this advice to heart and became an accomplished expert in hydraulic engineering and the world’s foremost authority on sediment transport.
This simple, but powerful advice can serve as the cornerstone of your learning and self-development. By finding things that you enjoy or learning to find ways to enjoy learning different things, you tap into the unlimited potential of intrinsic motivation.
This type of motivation is the key factor that can drive you towards rising to the top of your field and becoming one of the greats.