The Blog.

5 steps to being brilliant (without being a jerk)

18 Aug 2010 | Business Life, Personal Productivity

I’ve been writing a lot on the topic of being brilliant recently.

Which is why I’m delighted to include this guest post by John Williams, author of best-selling book Screw Work Let’s Play (How to do what you love & get paid for it), which I’m thoroughly enjoying and highly recommend:

* * *


5 steps to being brilliant (without being a jerk)

by John Williams

I’m just back from a 5-day break in Sicily at a remarkable boutique hotel. Every so often in our lives we are lucky enough to happen upon something truly brilliant – a restaurant, a hotel, a home. It may be grand or simple, but everything is just right – the food, the decor, the location, the welcome.

Mandranova is one of these places – a converted farm house and working olive farm creating some of the finest olive oil in the world and serving stunningly good home-cooked Sicilian food.

How do some people manage to achieve this brilliance while others don’t? How can you achieve something truly brilliant in your own life? And how can you communicate that without boasting and alienating people?

This is a question that percolated through my mind as I sat relaxing in the Sicilian olive groves contemplating my surroundings.

Here’s what I observed in Giuseppe and Sylvia, the creators of Mandranova:

1. Find your brilliance

Find that thing you have a natural ability and enduring passion for (clue: you’ve been doing it in some form your whole life)

2. Accept your brilliance

Even if you don’t shout about it to the world, you must stop pretending you’re nothing special (Brits in particular take note here). Downplaying your strengths short-changes both you and the world and it
guarantees you will never rise above the level of ‘good’ to reach brilliant. (A good place to start is to find out which Wealth Dynamics profile you are.)

3. Develop your brilliance

Take what you’re already good at and enjoy doing and focus all your energy on that. Become superb at it. It’s going to take a while but if you’re “in flow” you’ll have a blast along the way.

4. Create something truly brilliant

Use your talents with the skills and knowledge you’ve developed to create something really special. Focus on something very specific you can excel at. Collaborate with others who are brilliant at the parts you’re weaker at. Producing something is the most important step of all. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you believe you are if you have nothing to show for it.

5. Show the evidence of your brilliance

Occasionally I meet people who tell me how brilliant they are. I’m really not very interested. Tell me what you’ve created or contributed to and what other people have said. Better still don’t tell me, show me by helping me with this skill and knowledge of yours. Or just let me find you by others’ recommendations.

The Mandranova experience speaks for itself. Most of their bookings come from word of mouth recommendations and, the specialist website for exceptional places to stay as determined by independent reviewers.

Giuseppe never once told us his olive oil is the best in the world but he did explain with passion the processes required to make the best olive oil in the world and was pleased to report that it was
the chosen oil of The Ivy restaurant in London. The result: it was not the hosts who were using superlatives, but the guests.

Find the time this week to start creating something brilliant of your own.

Download a free chapter of Screw Work Let’s Play here


  1. Lorraine Poulton

    Yes, I agree. being brilliant at something takes time and effort, which = £££’s, too, but definitely worth the investment, without a doubt. Not only do you feel good about yourself, but you bless others. I’m encouraged!

  2. Grace Marshall

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting Lorraine. Really glad you’re encouraged. It’s definitely worth identifying your natural brilliance first, and focusing your investment on developing that – I think that’s where brilliance takes on a whole new level.

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

Like what youre reading?

Subscribe and join me in  conversation!

I will never sell your data. You can unsubscribe at any time. Here’s our privacy policy.

Want to  Explore?

Related  Posts

Friends in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest