Book Review: The Hidden Habits of Genius by Craig Wright

How to define genius? We all have different answers to this question, and the word is used so often these days that we often lose sight of what it means.

Craig Wright, in his forthcoming book The Hidden Habits of Genius (2020), dispels common misconceptions about genius and examines the defining characteristics of historically significant thinkers and achievers.

One can be obsessive, focused, defiant, original, resilient, passionate, and backward, but one can also be turned off. Our own inventiveness and that of our children can benefit from modeling the actions of geniuses.

You may be wondering if you should read the book. This book review will tell you what important lessons you can learn from this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.

At the end of this book review, I’ll also tell you the best way to get rich by reading and writing

Without further ado, let’s get started.

Lesson 1: Why Prodigies Might Not Be Geniuses

Experts often draw parallels between child prodigies and Mozart. And why? Quite simply, he set the bar extremely high. Mozart’s extraordinary musical talent seemed to be a divine gift, and he seemed obsessed with music even as a young child.

He had an eidetic memory for notes he heard, an eidetic pitch, and a keen monographic memory. Mozart possessed all the necessary qualities to become a child prodigy. We use the term “child prodigy” to describe a child with extraordinary abilities that would be more typical of an adult.

In talent shows that feature child prodigies, it is common to portray the young people who participate in the show as if they are true geniuses. However, none of the participants is a brainiac. Prodigies, that’s all they are. Despite their impressive abilities, these people usually specialize in a narrow range of fields.

A genius, unlike a prodigy, is an innovator. When it comes to impacting the world and society as a whole, geniuses are far more effective than prodigies who merely imitate. Even if they excel in their field from the beginning, they will not be the ones who make the breakthrough discoveries that advance the field.

For some types of excellence, long-term evaluation and assessment are also necessary prerequisites. Think of all the great artists like Van Gogh, Shakespeare, and Verdi who did not begin to shine until adulthood. Today’s prodigy bubble is based on the principles of unconditional praise, perfection, hyper-focus, and strict guidelines.

Although there may be many types of genius, prodigies are more limited in their expressions. We should stop equating prodigies and geniuses. However, few prodigies later achieve the status of genius, and even fewer geniuses have ever been called prodigies.

It follows that most geniuses are also visionaries who often achieve their goals by targeting goals that are not immediately obvious. Mary Shelley could put her visions into words, Pablo Picasso saw in paintings, and J.K. Rowling could imagine a story.

Geniuses generally never lose their capacity for awe and wonder. One of the worst things you can do to a child’s creativity is to tell them to “grow up.” Children can rediscover or maintain their natural inventiveness and imagination through bedtime stories, toys, and fairy tales.

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Lesson 2: Knowledge is Power

Each of us possesses, to varying degrees, a desire for knowledge, sometimes called an unquenchable thirst, a desire to learn, or simply insatiable curiosity. Although intangible and unobservable, curiosity is an essential part of who we are as individuals.

It is inextricably linked to who we are as people, especially our enthusiasm. Bright minds have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Every time they encounter a problem, they are irritated and determined to find a solution. There is a “divine discontent” between what is and what could be, according to Jeff Bezos.

Those who are curious by nature have a strong desire to make peace between their past beliefs and the evidence they now observe. Da Vinci, among others, has been called “the most indefatigably curious man in history.”

Yes, he wondered endlessly, not only about other people but also about himself. Learned wonder” was another name for Queen Elizabeth I. She had slowly acquired authority and power through her knowledge and would not give any of it up.

This characteristic is also shared by other historical geniuses, such as Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Oprah Winfrey, and Elon Musk.

Lesson 3: Discover Your Passion and Follow It Relentlessly

Oprah, Bezos, and even Plato in 380 B.C. all stressed the importance of following your passion, but before we can follow our passion, we have to figure out what that is. That can be instantaneous or it can take a long time. While Mozart, Einstein, and Picasso knew what their true passion was at the age of five, van Gogh worked in various fields before discovering his true passion at the age of twenty-nine.

Similar words with nuanced differences in meaning are passion, obsession, determination, and compulsion. Each of these words has a positive or negative connotation. Obsession can result from excessive passion. The difference between passion and obsession is that the former can be motivated and controlled, while the latter cannot. A healthy amount of passion is essential for life, while obsession is not.

Like Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison’s enthusiasm was driven by the need to prove himself. There are different kinds of passions, some of which are driven by love for other people and others by amusement, greed, or envy. It is true that some people are driven by a burning desire to maximize their potential and succeed in everything they undertake, but such pursuits rarely lead to truly groundbreaking work because they are not inherently revolutionary.

All of these brilliant people have one thing in common: they are not satisfied with the world in its current state. They all realized they had blind spots and could not relax until they found a way to fix them.

Try answering this question: can you see something that everyone else seems to miss? Is this frustrating for you? You think you are the only one who can figure it out, right? In that case, you have probably found your calling in life and, who knows, maybe even your special talent.

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Lesson 4: A True Genius is Always a Rebel

Rebellious geniuses are celebrated in our society because they can change the way we see the world. Those who stick to the status quo tend to be forgotten. To be creative, you have to be willing to break the rules, but not every rebel is a genius. The provocative and insightful ideas of geniuses are often seen as a threat to the status quo.

For this reason, people with exceptional intelligence are often rejected. Because Socrates posed such a threat, he was forced to ingest poison. People like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Joan of Arc was literally burned to death.

Changing the status quo is a slow process, and it can take centuries for a seemingly absurd idea to become the accepted norm in a society. At least initially, societies are often hostile to geniuses because of the widespread perception that all geniuses are inherently disruptive.

They cause people distress and force them to conform or die. Christopher Columbus, Charles Darwin and Nikola Tesla were not the only innovators who swam against the tide. What exactly was the catalyst for their rebellion? It was a sense of dissatisfaction. They were willing to take risks, and that is a quality of genius that is on a par with resilience.

True geniuses, according to the definition of the English writer Samuel Johnson, are characterized by a mind with enormous powers, focused on a single direction. Genius minds are like foxes: they roam widely and tend to have a dangerous, unbridled curiosity.

Their lack of self-discipline combined with their insatiable curiosity leads them to search for solutions outside their actual field of expertise. Even Einstein complained that his insatiable curiosity got in the way of his productivity, and he once said he would rather have been a musician than a physicist.

Like most geniuses, these people have a wide range of interests, perspectives, routines, and skills. Mozart, for example, was also a mathematician; he began his studies in the subject when he was only four years old.

From geniuses we learn to be curious, to switch disciplines, to be observant, to take risks, to overcome our fears, and to broaden our education. They also warn against assuming that a college degree is a guarantee of a job for life.

Lesson 5: The Advantages of Opposite Thinking

Opposite thinking has at least four advantages: First, it helps you identify and address problems you may have overlooked before; second, it enhances your creativity and mental agility. Fourth, it allows you to enjoy yourself while doing your favorite activity; and fifth, it teaches you to deal calmly with paradoxes and ambiguities.

Imagine the reversal of a thing or an idea when you want to have a firm grip on it. Determine your desired outcome and draw a progression line leading back to your starting point to increase the probability of success. To understand the inner workings of a machine, you must first take it apart.

Discovering the value of counterintuitive points of view, especially in technological and scientific fields, is one of the hidden talents of genius. In art, too, contradictory ideas can be a useful framework. Mozart saw conflicting ideas as a welcome challenge that could lead to better performance.

In da Vinci’s 100,000 Sketches, there is evidence that he valued opposing perspectives. He sparked an artistic revolution with his Mona Lisa, which went against the establishment. Her smile does not say much, but one wonders what the artist is trying to say.

The lives of such geniuses seem to indicate that the more one takes advantage of the apparent incongruities of the world, the more genius one can display.

Many of history’s most revered creators-painters, composers, comedians, writers, moralists, and poets-have incorporated contradictory elements into their works for dramatic effect. Scientists and mathematicians do not necessarily look for contradictions, but they appreciate them when they are present.

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Lesson 6: Take Some Time To Relax For Inspiration 

Geniuses have confirmed time and again over the years that rest periods inspire them, regardless of what time of day or night they occur. Budding artists and writers can benefit from this advice.

Getting out of the house and going for a walk can help put the mind in a more open, creative state, which is perfect when you’re looking for a new, inspiring idea. Whether you’re walking in nature or at the gym, your memory resources will be strengthened.

If you don’t feel like running or working out, you can take a bus, boat or train ride instead, which will get you thinking. Like many other creative geniuses, Rowling got the idea for Harry Potter during a train ride.

Don’t engage in any activity that requires you to concentrate or think a lot. You can free your mind by doing some mindless physical activity that involves repetitive motion, and you can keep a sheet of paper and a pen near the shower or bed, as Einstein did, to write down any brilliant ideas that come to you.

Everyone has a tendency to want to be efficient and focused all the time, but true geniuses know when not to be.

Lesson 7: A Genius Concentration

Concentration, analysis, and creativity are all skills that require effort, just like relaxation. This is true for geniuses as well as for successful people. It’s common knowledge that you have to make an effort to solve a problem, but once you know, you either act immediately or put it off.

Da Vinci’s concentration was extraordinary, but once he figured out how to solve a problem, he usually stopped worrying about it. Therefore, it is likely that he left only about twenty-five finished paintings.

Concentration and effort are required for both analysis and execution. Before putting brush or pen to paper, Picasso studied the work in his mind and with his eyes. Da Vinci was a master of the art of staring intently for long periods of time. His state of concentrated thought was called discorso mentale, or “mental discourse.”

To concentrate in today’s world, even in the most distracting environments, you must erect a mental barrier between yourself and the outside world. Your productivity will increase if you create a special place where you can focus on positive things and not be interrupted.

Finally, as much as we would like to emulate the actions of geniuses, we should not forget that these individuals almost always lacked great human qualities. As it turned out, many of them were self-centered and obsessive. The world rarely recognizes the contribution of genius until it passes away and its legacy is finally appreciated.

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The Hidden Habits of Genius Quotes

“Genius is an explosive and seemingly random event arising from a combination of many personal phenotypes—among them intelligence, resilience, curiosity, visionary thinking, and more than a dash of obsessive behavior.”

 

“In simplest terms, genes are the nature side of things, epigenes the nurture.”

 

“Cézanne continued to labor in his studios in Paris and Aix. By the late 1880s, at the age of nearly fifty, progressive artists were beginning to admire his unique emphasis on geometric forms and flat colors.”

 

“For those athletes who are naturally at 60% (nature), they must maximize the 20% (work) in order to even think about competing against the top (as 90%–100% athletes).”

 

“Reasonable logic differs from creative ingenuity; thinking inside the box, as the metaphor goes, differs from thinking outside.”

View our larger collection of the best The Hidden Habits of Genius quotes. 

How To Get Rich By Reading and Writing?

You must be an avid reader who is hungry for knowledge if you are reading this book review. Have you thought about making money using your reading and writing skills?

Thanks to the Internet, the world has undergone a massive change in recent years. Blogging has now become the best way to make money online.

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Warren Buffet said, “If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

Instead of looking for a 9-5 job and staying in your comfort zone, it’s better if you become your own boss as soon as possible.

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