is a genius.
But if you judge
a fish by its ability
to climb a tree…
It will live its whole life
believing it is stupid.
— Albert Einstein

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time, and one that ties in very well to yesterday’s post about embracing your inner talents. The key thing you should take away from this quote is this: you are a genius. The catch is, you need to find the things you excel at and can make something out of. Just because you fail at something in life doesn’t mean you are a failure as a person or should give up trying, much like the fish in Einstein’s quote.

In order to ever achieve anything in your life, you need to know yourself and know what you can do. It takes time, you will fail a lot, and other people may try to bring you down. But if you can find a way persevere, and to climb that tree — you’ll find that it was all worth it in the end.

What Does This Mean to You?

This is a quote I think about almost everyday, and means a lot to me. But I’m interested in learning what it means to you as well. Feel free to share your thoughts about it in the comments below. Can’t wait to hear from you!

About the author: Alex Mangini is an 18-year-old web designer, blogger and founder of Life Notion. He has been helping people online since the age of 14, and hopes to inspire even more through the blog. Follow him on Twitter →

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Kian December 1, 2011 at 9:05 am


Wow I have never seen this quote before but it’s automatically gone down as one of my favourites! It also fits in very well with what you spoke about yesterday. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Alex Mangini December 1, 2011 at 9:21 am


It’s a great quote, glad you like it so much Kian!

Chris Hamze December 1, 2011 at 9:30 am


I would love to have a high rez version of this, so I could print a poster for my office :)

Alex Mangini December 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm


That would be…epic! If I get enough requests, I think I may have to do something like that.

I plan to do a bunch more of quote posts like these. I have tons of favorite quotes!

Sam King December 1, 2011 at 9:37 am


Firstly: great graphic… you the man, Mangini, you the man!

‘Square pegs in round holes’ comes to mind… there’s a lot of people out there – billions in fact – who are not following their flow.

This video can defo help them – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOMtp_2kDqM – start climbing trees… hope you find it interesting.

Alex Mangini December 1, 2011 at 2:24 pm


Thanks Sam! And no, King — you the man! ;D

And that video sounds awesome, I’ll try and check it out soon.

PS: Sorry, we’ll get on a Skype call soon.

Deeone December 1, 2011 at 11:29 am


Hey there Alex,

Wow! That’s really all I can say! Well, not all I can say, but I am quite speechless. This is a phenomenal post my friend. I also love the design of your website. I’m new to web designing, but I do find it fascinating the imagination that people possess. The graphics on this post is awesome, as well! I glad you visited my site and left your feedback bud; other wise I might’ve missed out on what you have over here.

I pride myself on being the Quote King; but you’ve pulled one over on me here. I’ve never heard of this particular Einstein masterpiece. He usually does bring the awesomeness in in material. This one is no exception.

People often get stuck in limiting one another, because it seems that if they can’t do it; then there’s no way that you should be able too. I learned this when I created my website, and started a career as a writer. The naysayers came from every direction…”Get a real job” they would tell me. “You’re going to lose everything putting everything into that blog.” I heard that one too.

What helped and ultimately continues to push me forward is this exact thing that Einstein had to say. When you began to listen to what other’s have to say about your personal climb you’ll end up believing them at some point. Put on the blinders, and move forward!

Great post man. Thanks again for stopping in on the Release. :)

Alex Mangini December 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm



Thanks a lot for the great comment! Glad you like Life Notion, I put a ton of time into the design around here. :D

If you ever want to talk web design — send me an email. Been doing this since I was 14! And I’m glad you did end up visiting mdash; I was hoping you would. I’ve only been to your site once (found it this morning) but have a lot of respect for you and the posts you’ve written there!

And I’m glad you found a new quote! Just so you know: I have a lot of other quotes I want to publish like this so do stick around!

I know what you mean. For whatever reason, people find the need to discourage others who have big dreams and goals. What’s wrong with it? Just because one person doesn’t have the drive to dream like someone else doesn’t give them the right to bring them down. But hey, sometimes the haters are the best motivators.

And no problem man, I’ll definitely be over there a lot!

Ray December 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm


Excellent quote, and it happens to be very true. That Einstein guy was kinda smart… :)

Alex Mangini December 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm


Yeah, he had his moments. ;-D

Justin December 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm


Hey Alex,
That quote by Einstein is spot on and so true. I am so glad that I decide to become a blogger because it is something that I love to do and I am relatively good at it.

Take care…

Alex Mangini December 3, 2011 at 10:39 am


Thanks for stopping by Justin. :-)

I think you have a great blog, and am glad you started blogging as well — you write some great stuff!

Sebestian December 1, 2011 at 8:45 pm


Very enlightening quote.

Alex Mangini December 3, 2011 at 10:39 am


Thanks Sebastian! What does it mean to you?

Chukwuka Okwukwe Chukwuka December 4, 2011 at 8:15 pm


Hi Alex,

To me it means if you are a genius in something you ought not to, then it’s just a waste of time and resources.

Why don’t they major in what they have strength in?


Alex Mangini December 5, 2011 at 11:55 am


Thanks for the comment Chuku! Hope to see you around more. :-)

Michal December 5, 2011 at 5:08 am


This quote is very true. I think that many of us fail because of themselves and not because of what they actually do. Success only comes when you keep trying despite the others bringing you down. Never listen to others saying “this will not work, it is impossible to do that, it will be tough, etc.”. Everyone is a genius and what might seem difficult or impossible to somebody may well be easy to the others. Patience and focus are the most important qualities of successful businessmen.

Alex Mangini December 5, 2011 at 11:57 am


Thanks for the comment Michal, welcome to Life Notion. :-D

I agree with all your points completely. If you don’t use the negativity you get as motivation, then you’re probably missing out on achieving some greatness.

See you around the blog!

Michal December 6, 2011 at 1:36 am


Hello Alex. Your blog is full of valuable information and I am always happy to read some motivating posts.

Jimmy December 5, 2011 at 9:53 pm


Hi Alex,

This quote has some presuppositions right? There is this concept of each of us having some unique talents and that we will do best when engaged in these activities. This you have adequately spelled out in your post. But there is also that element of doing something impossible and thinking out of the box. A fish will always be the best in the water, but that does not mean that the fish cannot explore other realms someday.


Sean Davis December 7, 2011 at 2:19 am


This makes me think of a conversation I had a few months ago when someone called Bush Jr. stupid. Now, I can understand why they would say that. I’ve thought it before, myself. But what if he’s playing a different game than we are? I mean, where we come from, if you’re stupid, you fail at most everything. But this man became the president of the United States.

I’m sure he’s been called stupid many times in his life. But he made it somewhere that most people won’t. He lives the life that most people will never experience. he “made it” BIG. Are we judging him on the right scale? That man just might be a genius and we’re sitting here judging him based on his ability to speak clearly and not make goofy faces.

When I came to that realization, it was a huge eye-opener for me.

Thanks for posting.

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