7 Characteristics Of Brilliant People And How To Become One

Today I have the privilege of guest posting for an incredible blog, Daily Blog Tips.

Take some time to read the post and leave some comments. I know you guys are the best at that.

In that post I outline some tips for writing content that people love to share – content that spreads.

To take it a step further, some would say that writing life-changing content has to do with an innate brilliance. Some are just born “better” than others.

Forget about it. Brilliance may not be what you think. And it’s within your grasp.

Just the other day a friend of mine complimented me by saying I was “brilliant”. My knee-jerk reaction, was, “Why, thank you. Anything else you have to say?” :)

Then I thought, “I’m definitely NOT brilliant. Matter of fact, I’ve got to be the furthest apple from the brilliance tree.”

I kinda sucked on my SAT’s. I’m not really that creative or inventive. The only brilliance I possess has to do with the amount of food I can consume and still not be fat. And I digress…

“Brilliance” is a word reserved for 75 year old, wise men with white hair, or Seth Godin, or those who have a massive catalog of inventions.

What makes someone brilliant?

That got me thinking. What makes someone “brilliant?”

Can it be scientifically quantified or is it a vague generalization? Is it a high IQ score or inventing something or just wearing really thick glasses and refusing to comb your hair?

What is it about a person that makes them brilliant in our eyes?

I believe brilliance is attainable. Matter of fact, you can be brilliant.

Brilliant people have certain qualities; certain habits. You don’t need to be the smartest. You don’t need to ace your SAT. You don’t need to have white hair and thick glasses.

But you do need to do a few things.

1. Brilliant people solve problems

When you come up with a solution to something that others couldn’t figure out, you are seen as brilliant.

It doesn’t have to be on the scale of solving world hunger. It can be finding a new route that skips traffic or a better way to save money.

Brilliant people solve problems. They don’t just complain about the problems around them. They are solution-oriented. They recognize the problem and don’t speak until they’ve figured it out.

2. Brilliant people are helpful

Do you add value to people’s lives? When people spend time with you do they feel encouraged? If you want to be brilliant, start helping people.

Don’t just criticize and loft your opinion whenever you get the chance. Enhance the lives of others. Invest in people.

3. Brilliant people do the work

They put in the time. They show up consistently and fight laziness.

It’s not that they aren’t naturally lazy. They most likely are. But they fight it. They don’t give into what is easy. They work hard, show up every day, and make a difference.

4. Brilliant people are generous

They aren’t self absorbed. They live for a cause greater than themselves. They are making a difference beyond their own bank accounts.

They have a vision beyond themselves. They give and they give and they give. They recognize that life is more about what you give away than what you consume.

5. Brilliant people take risks

You could just stay put on the sidelines. You could just think about doing something great.

But if you want to be brilliant, you need to take the leap. Do what others only dream of. Step out and take risks. Brilliant people fail often because they don’t attempt what is safe. What sets them apart from the pack is that they keep going.

6. Brilliant people shine a light beyond themselves

By definition the word brilliant refers to a a striking, distinctive brightness. Brilliant people are those who stand for something larger than themselves.

They reflect the greatness and creativity of God.

7. Brilliant people don’t fit in a box

Truth is, brilliance is subjective. What’s brilliant to me may not be brilliant to you. What speaks to me may not speak to you.

That’s the beauty of art, the beauty of God’s creation. There is a place for your art, your creativity, and your unique perspective. While it may not be “brilliant” to everyone, it is brilliant to some.

And who wants to try and please everyone?

You can be brilliant. Start with a grand vision of your life and the world. You are here to make a difference, as cliche’d as that sounds. Stop watching, criticizing, complaining, wandering, and being lazy.

Apply these 7 characteristics. And go, do something brilliant today.

Question: What do you think it means to be brilliant? You can leave a comment by clicking here?

Thanks to my fantastic Twitter friends for their help with this post!


  1. says

    Brialliant people see a problem and have the wisdom or discernment to use the appropriate resources (theirs or someone else’s [resources]) to help or fix.

  2. says

    Hi David,

    I found your blog through your guest post on Daily Blog Tips (Congrats, btw). Excellent article there and here. Nice to “meet” you! I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  3. kathleen williams says

    I agree with the 7 characters above about brilliant people,I’ve done all that & wish I could do more,I’m retired,time is running out,I wonder what else can I do!I help in a sewing room at a senior ct every morning teaching sewing & desiging ,they have a sale every Dec ,sell what we make to help the center,I know I’ve helped lot of people!I’m also the designer of the Dropseat Jumpsuits,no undressing in bath room,I hope to sell the patterns.Thanks very much.

  4. says

    Hi David,

    Just came across your blog David. Interesting read. I will share, with your permission with my networking group. But as I was reading and thinking about the word, “brilliant”, it occurred to me that the British use it in their everyday language. She was “brilliant” today. A form of excellence beyond the norm. And usually not the mensa type of brilliant. So yes, I think you’re correct in saying that we can all be brilliant at times. I would also suggest that “brilliant” people can fit in the box quite easily but have the ability to think outside the box more than most. As well, they are not deterred if their first attempt at solving a problem does not work out. They try again. This uniqueness allows them to accomplish so much more.

    Allan Schneiderman

  5. says

    It is a nice post.I see myself a brilliant man for I always want to look beyond my self.I am a middle class earner but have initiated community empowerment programs un-thought of by my wealthier counterparts in the community.
    Thanks so much for your research.

  6. says

    I agree, Brilliance is subjective just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I most probably wouldn’t take my being brilliant too seriously unless I thought a particular thing . . . and it usually refers to a particular thing when people use the word . . . was creative, innovative, etc., then I might agree or I’d just say thanks and keep moving.

  7. says

    Being brilliant is a state of mind. It is about how you are perceived by others. ‘Brilliant’ people plan ahead strategically. They think about how each of their actions will affect the possible outcomes. They realize that it takes less energy and creates less stress to be prepared to take action no matter what happens. ‘Brilliant’ people are often proactive, again realizing that this approach takes less effort on your part, and then you have the luxury of sitting back and watching as others try to react to your actions.

  8. jeff says

    while i had a tough time in school, it wasnt because i was lazy and didnt care… it was because i tended to work problems differently than the rest of the class. in school, (atleast in my experience) u were taught to work problems a certain way. and after trying to find the answers… u had to show your work, how u got it. therein lies the problem… i could get the answers, but it wasnt from the method in which the teacher “taught” us. and any other form of problem solving was rejected and ultimately incorrect. now, answer me this… how is it incorrect if i solved the problem, even though i did it my way? i wanted to ask questions and figure out their methods… i just had so many questions that i would have been embarrassed to ask. (on top of that, my teachers were not the most patient people) i couldnt learn their way – i tried. somehow , i found my own way. (and no, it wasnt cheating)

    i dont say any of this to say im brilliant, or that im some ‘beautiful mind’ – not at all. in fact, quite the opposite. but i do believe there are a lot of kids who may suffer from this same thing in what can only been seen as some form of A.D.D. or learning disability. perhaps if there were certain classes (and i dont mean special ed classes where that can embarass the kid and make him resent school that much more). but rather a normal class thats sole purpose is to figure and help out those of us who work differently w/out being exploited to our peers. a class where we are not on a time table, we’re not rusehd to finish a lesson plan just so it fits into the 9 week ciriculum schedule.

    the key thing to remember for all teachers is: more school, staying late, to me, isnt the answer – its proper placement. no one student is the same. some of us want the help, need the help… u just cant force your way upon us. it will only turn us off. and that to me (& this is only my opinion) is probably a big reason for the high drop-out rate.

  9. Liz Mossad says

    This was a great blog. I agree with all 7 traits. Sometimes because you try and fail, others want to make you feel inadequate. I say screw them. They have no idea what it is to be ‘brilliant’ enough to want to make it happen. This was wonderful, refreshing and affirming. Thank you so much.

  10. Raden Anyss says

    I’m 17 years old. I’m here because I don’t know what to do later on in my life but I do know that I want to be someone brilliant. Thank you :)

  11. A Gopi says

    I am really happy with this, because i have learned a lot . I find my mistakes which have to change to become as brilliant.thank you.

  12. A Gopi says

    I am really happy with this, because i have learned a lot . I find my mistakes which have to change to become brilliant.thank you.

  13. irene says

    this is so helpful cause im a kind of person, that is wanted to become a brilliant, cause i want to pursue my self and i dont want to give up until i can’t reach my goal…

  14. brent tamatea says

    Steve i dont see myself as brilliant at all yet i know that God that dwells within me is more than able to go beyond what i can think or imagine many times as i have worked on cars,and vintage engines i pray Lord help me to repair or fix this problem and he comes up with amazing creative solutions. he amazes me.People look at me and say thats clever the reality is it isnt me at all the more as i acknowledge him at work in my life the more he will work in me.I cant write songs or poetry not my gifting but over recent months the holy spirit has put words on my heart for songs that blows me away as he makes the impossible a reality….

  15. India says

    Thank you David!

    I found this because I was looking for confirmation of something I share with young adults that work with a program I coordinate. We host weekly life skills with them with a goal of defining their brilliance. At yesterday’s life skill, another facilitator joined the team and I shared with her to help them see they’re brilliant and being smart is not the focus- being brilliant is. Brilliance provokes to action rather than just standing around saying I’m smart.

    Your seven points were almost exactly what I had in mind, but had not taken the time to define it yet. So, THANK YOU!

    • Kory says

      Tshepo I’m not saying all of this to attack you or offend you in any type of way, Im taking the time to respond to your comment to hopefully change your life.

      “Wow I love your inspiring words” Thats all you needed to say…. now think very deep on why YOU felt the need to add

      ” I want to become brilliant person too and I will follow all those steps”

      See I believe our brain works just like a computer, It sees this world as 1’s and 0’s thats it, is it a zero or is it a one, Im going to physically act or im not going to physically act… So think of how your brain connects the word “I want”. You have wanted things your whole entire life, You have wanted to eat, you have wanted to run, you have wanted a million dollars. Now how many times did you want to run but then convinced yourself not to? how many times have you wanted to eat and at the physical moment you couldn’t? Now this only applys if you have done these things. But your the only one who knows how you programmed your mind to view the world “I want”.

      Now take a look at “To become a brilliant person too” To me I see the brain “wanting” to be accepted, “wanting” to be apart of the group of brilliant people.

      Now look at ” and I will follow all those steps” You have no idea if your going to follow all of these steps, telling these people who look at your comment wont ever help you to follow all of these steps so why is that part even necessary to even say or type? Because your brain “wants” and sometimes “needs” validation from anything or anyone.

      But with everything said, Your main goal at this point is to pay more attention on what you say and how it will affect your brain and your future actions. Saying “And I will follow all those steps” Leaves room for disappointment if you don’t follow all of those steps, So you already gave your self a negative situation that may occur and set you back from your goals. Start programming your brain to 1’s and 0’s and start understanding yourself, whats made you fail in the past and how you need to do it differently to succeed in the future.

      You wont ever become part of the brilliant group of people if you need there validation to become part of them, Because in the end they will look at you as a One or as a Zero, Your the only person… who can let everyone around you know that you are a 1, By showing them through action instead of empty promises.


      Here is some quotes that are relevant to what im trying to say.

      Albert Einstein:
      “doing the same thing expecting different results is insanity”

      “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

      “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

      • brentnz says

        Kory given your definition I would rather be a zero its not about steps to becoming a brilliant person if that is our goal we have misunderstood the question.As a Christian the goal is to become more like Christ or more christlike the reality is the more I seek to become more of me I lose sight of who Jesus wants me to be you are either for one or other.You cant please both Christ and man ,It is in Christ I find who i really am and can become the best I can be it means dying to self and living for Christ that is the way rather than the persuit of self or self actualisation as the world believes.brentnz


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