Are geniuses born or made? This is a key question if you’re trying to do something big in the world.  

[“The first study for the man that wants to be a poet is true complete knowledge of himself: he looks for his soul; examines it, tests it, learns it. As soon as he knows it, he must develop it! That seems simple: a natural development takes place in every brain: so many egoists proclaim themselves authors: there are plenty of others who attribute their intellectual progress to themselves! – But the soul must be made monstrous: after the fashion of the comprachicos, yes! Imagine a man planting and cultivating warts on his face.” – Arthur Rimbaud writes in a letter to his friend Paul Demeny] 

In his dramatic fashion the young poet seems to say that we can invent ourselves by cultivating the seeds of our own becoming. He does not seem to be saying that how we turn out is left to chance. Making ourselves brilliant, beautiful, or monstrous is best left up to the sower. 

Rimbaud is notable because he was sixteen years old at the height of his achievements. He is a prodigy who is claiming to have some understanding of how he developed, and he claims to have developed himself. I agree with Rimbaud, that anyone can cultivate their own genius. It just requires work. 

[You have to spend a very long time engaged in this acquisition of domain-specific expertise. You can’t do it in a single year, or even in 5 years. On the contrary, you need a full decade of devotion to expertise acquisition before you have what it takes to make your mark in the world. We refer to this as the 1—year rule. No decade of dedicated training, no genius! – Dean Keith Simonton (3)] 

[Research on high achievers has proven that no one can escape a long period of apprenticeship, starting as a mere ignorant novice.(4)]