There is no question that Albert Einstein transformed the way we think about the world. But his scientific journey also teach us important lessons about life—and the fact that sometimes our biggest accomplishments are built on ruins and failures. Many consider Einstein the greatest scientist who ever lived, but he was also human.
Here are five of the biggest life lessons we can learn from Einstein’s genius.
Even the smartest people we know are wrong sometimes.
Just because someone is a genius, does not mean they are always right. Take a look at the central implication of quantum theory, which states that the universe is based on probabilities rather than absolutes. Einstein had a difficult time accepting this theory—as made evident by the Einstein-Bohr debates.
Read whenever you can.
The right book can truly transform your life. In one of his letters, Einstein admitted that reading A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume helped him formulate his theory of special relatively.
Where you are matters.
Einstein is proof that where you spend your time is crucially important. Einstein struggled as a student and didn’t find much value in school, where his abstract thinking was often discouraged. He found more motivation working as a clerk at a patent office, where he made significant leaps in physics and philosophy.
Embrace your weaknesses.
As a child, Einstein was extraordinarily shy and struggled in social scenarios and was a “reluctant talker.” Einstein confessed that he found memorizing words very difficult—and researchers later speculated that he may have suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Though AS can open the door for socially unacceptable behavior and awkwardness, it can also give you the unique ability to focus in on a single topic—a talent that Einstein used to ask questions and ultimately decode the universe.
Many of us have a vision of Einstein arriving at his theories, but forget that he made many mistakes before arriving at his conclusions. Next to his genius, his most admirable traits were persistence and imagination. He never achieved his goal of uniting the forces of electromagnetism and gravity under one theoretical framework, following a series of dead ends all the way to his death. But he also never gave up on the possibility.