What is “genius”?

Kindling’s biggest ongoing project is the Timeline of Human Genius. The Timeline shows historic moments of growth and evolution throughout human history – from the dawn of agriculture, to the creation of government, to scientific revelations, to today’s progress toward peace, justice, and sustainability.

But what actually is genius?

Genius is the act of creation. It comes from the Latin genui meaning to “to bring into being.”

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The Timeline catalogs moments in humanity’s history where individuals or communities have brought something new into being, have created something that has never existed. Out of thin air, through our genius, we give birth to something extraordinary.

If you look closely, despite all our stories of loss, this been happening consistently throughout history and at a faster and faster rate. With every century, we discover something new. We add one more piece to the puzzle. They are moments where we go from embryo to tadpole to frog. These moments of genius are what allow us to grow and evolve.

If you look ever closer, you’ll see that these moments of genius are actually us becoming more unique, more extraordinary, more ourselves. They are us distinguishing ourselves from the rest of life and creation. They are us humans uncovering our essence – what makes us us – in all its glory.

Geniuses are not those individuals that have a bunch of knowledge. Geniuses are those who truly understand themselves and live their essence. They do the thing they themselves are uniquely positioned to do. While so many of us hide from it, they live their genius. In doing so, they reveal to all of us a new expression of humanity that has never been seen before. They reveal possibility for a new way of doing and being.

There is genius in all of us, just waiting to be uncovered.

What’s your genius?

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Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Before Kindling, Peter was Senior Research Associate for the Pacific Institute's Corporate Sustainability Program and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, conducting research that supports companies' sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham with his partner Sara and cat Winnie.


Kindling is a catalog of humanity's evolution. By showing how humanity has grown consistently more conscious, capable, and connected through time, Kindling sparks possibility for a new, more sustainable, more just, more purposeful way of doing and being.


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