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

Lately, I’ve heard people slingin’ around the phrase “he’s a genius” regarding a few developers. Are they really geniuses, or are they just passionate about what they do?

I personally don’t think they are “geniuses”; I think they are passionate and love what they do (and I’ve talked to them). They spend more time thinking, reading, and DOING what other’s don’t (or won’t). They SEEM like genius to “average joe-dev”, but they don’t necessarily have more potential – they simply exercise their potential.

Woah – big concept, eh?

Most devs do there job and call it a day. They’re mechanical turks. It’s their day job, and developing is a means to a paycheck. But the devs who are passionate, who love it, who crave it… they think, learn, read and do much more than what they do at the J.O.B.; they’re doing it for fun.

So yes, they probably would seem like “geniuses” to the average dev, but not because they were born a “genius”… it’s because they practice and have made choices (and habits) that resulted in them being very good at what they do.

And one skill can usually translate to other areas without a big learning curve… like problem solving. Learn to troubleshoot a broken software app, you can probably troubleshoot why your car won’t start.

About the work environment and culture…

If you want more “genius-like” devs, create an environment to nurture them; one that encourages creative thinking and problem solving. Don’t just stick em’ in a cube and bore them to death… you’ll turn them into clock punchers just working for the weekend.