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• Copernicus’s and Galileo’s genius traits included intellectual honesty and non-conventionality.
• Copernicus was an astronomer who has been credited as being the first to put forward the idea of heliocentrism. It was Galileo who popularized and expanded these ideas after Copernicus’s death, but Galileo also had many other accomplishments, including the invention of a telescope and the discovery of many great ideas in astronomy and mathematics.
• Galileo’s ideas directly challenged the predominant religious worldview at the time, earning him scorn and even resulting in him being tried and convicted of heresy. He was forced to retract his statements under penalty of death.
• Galileo may have submitted to the church’s persecution, but his ideas were revived by other scientists in non-Catholic countries, until eventually the heliocentric model was taken as fact by the end of the 18th century.
• Both Galileo and Copernicus possessed an uncommon originality and independence of thought, and pursued facts and evidence despite resistance from others. They both achieved what they did because they were intellectually honest and wiling to pursue what they knew was right.
• We can follow in this spirit by understanding that sometimes success comes with a willingness to be disliked. If we can relinquish ideas of a deterministic fate, own our actions and our agency, and foster self-esteem for who we are, then we are less susceptible to the judgments and criticisms of others.
• To be independent thinkers, we need to lower the value we give to social approval and increase the value we place on our own vision.
• To cultivate courage in ourselves, we can regularly check in with our own values and principles, and align with them always. Many geniuses are powered by an unflinching commitment to their own path. What is yours?
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