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Discover Your Genius: How to Think Like History's Ten Most Revolutionary Minds
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2002
Much like Michael Gelb's brilliant "How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci" this book succeeds in giving the reader engaging and informative biographies, while at the same time encouraging you to live and think like them.
The book is written in an easy, conversational style that gives the reader the feeling that he/she is having a delightful talk with the writer about the world's greatest thinkers.
Many times I have attempted to read up on geniuses like Plato, Darwin, and Ghandi with the intent of modeling my life after their examples, but I couldn't find the time to finish the marathon-length biographies I came across; "Discover Your Genius" is exactly what I was looking for--it gave me vast amounts of interesting information on each of the 10 geniuses and immediately showed me what I can do to improve myself with their examples.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wondered what a genius is like and how you can enrich your life everyday by emulating them.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2003
This book seems like a sequel of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. And, this other book is superior to this one. Michael Gelb did a more cohesive and detailed job of fleshing out the cognitive faculties of the mind by studying Leonardo, than he did by studying this Dream Team. Occasionally, the exercises appear a bit repetitive, boring, and uninspiring.
If I had not read this other book, I would have said that this book is great. Instead, it is very good.
Michael Gelb touches on the same subjects, concepts, and exercises as in 'Leonardo.'
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
I must admit to being a big Michael Gelb fan . . . I've heard him
speak (he is great!), and I loved his previous book: HOW TO
THINK LIKE LEONARDO DA VINCI . . . so naturally, when
his latest effort (DISCOVER YOUR GENIUS: HOW TO THINK
LIKE HISTORY'S TEN MOST REVOLUTIONARY MINDS) became
available, I tore into it--and was not disappointed . . . it is equally great!
Imagine being able to draw upon the collected wisdom of Plato,
Brunelleschi, Columbus, Copernicus, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare,
Jefferson, Darwin, Gandhi, and Einstein . . . Gelb
looks at these great thinkers to help you unleash your own
creavity . . . each of the invididuals profiled embodies a
special "genius" charactersitic, ranging from
optimism to courage . . . you then get to integrate these principles
into your daily life through a series of self-assessment questionnaires
and a complete program of practical exercises.
There were many memorable passages; among them:
[on how to read a Shakespeare play]
Each Shakespeare play offers a master class in emotional
intelligence and the lack thereof. As you read each play
approach it with the following questions in mind:
What can I learn from this play that will help me know myself better?
What can I learn from this play that will help me understand others better?
(It's useful to think of specific people you might wish to
understand better.)
[Thomas Jefferson's ten-point plan for personal improvement]
1. Never put off til tomorrow what you can do today. (Jefferson rose
before sunrise each day to get a head start on his massive to-do lists.)
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself. (Jefferson
believed in the spirit of personal as well as political independence
and thought that it began with the ability to solve one's own problems.)
3. Never spend your money before you have it. (Jefferson learned
this the hard way by violating this advice repeatedly and suffering
the consequences.)
4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be
dear to you. (Jefferson loved life and saw material objects as means
to experience rather than ends in themselves.)
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold. (At the center
of power for many years, Jefferson witnessed the disastrous
effects of egotism and believing one's own publicity on many
powerful people.)
6. We never repent of having eaten too little. (Jefferson's
extraordinary vitality was in part a function of his healthy diet and
his practice of leaving the table before he was full.)
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly. (As a natural
optimist, Jefferson was able to choose to see the best in all life's
circumstances. This was his way of saying, "To get what you
choose, choose what you've got.")
8. How much pain has cost us the evils which have never
happened. (Jefferson reminds us that worry is pointless. His
optimism helped protect him from anxiety about the future.)
9. Take things away by their smooth handle. (Jefferson was an
elegant mind with a talent for finding the path of least resistance.)
10. When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a
hundred. (As a man of the Enlightenment, Jefferson championed
the voice of reason and understood the great power of words to
cause harm as well as good.)
[an exercise to help you think like Einstein]
In your notebook or on a piece of scrap paper, take two minutes
and write down as many uses as you possibly can for a paper clip.
How many uses did you write down? Take the total number of
answers and divide by two to calculate your score in terms
of uses-per-minute.
The international average score is four uses per minute. A score of
eight is excellent and a score of twelve or more correlates
significantly with other genius-level measures of idea generation
ability.
Does the alternate use test creativity? Not really. It tests one's
comfort with free association, and free association is an important
aspect of the creative process.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 29, 2007
There are many good books with research based studies on how to improve your IQ or creativity on the market. Unfortunately, this book isn't one of them. Most of the exercises just seemed like silly stuff the author thought up on his own without any testing or research to prove the exercises actually work. For example, in the chapter on Columbus, one of the exercises is to get the tub with your sweetie, splash around and try to chart new waters in your relationship. For another example, the chapter on Plato recommends inviting guests to come to a toga party, dressed as ancient Greeks, and to bring their favorite poems and essays about love. Well, I suppose it is possible that might be a good way to improve a person's creativity, but I think most of our friends would find that a pretty weird party invitation.

Instead of this book I would recommend The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. It is more of a research based book and written rather formally, but it actually has practical, research based factors on what it takes to make people experts in their fields. Tips from this book include the findings that experts are made and not born (with the exception of some sports) and that expertise is usually associated with years of experience that include deliberate practice (practice with continual feedback).
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2002
This was a fun and entertaining book. Focused on innovation and how to unleash your abilities to be creative, this book provides insight into 10 Famous people that dramatically influenced the world with their ideas and actions.
I will immediately say that I naturally enjoy learning from history, particularly from the people that influence history. To understand why historical figures acted in difficult times, how they adapted, what aspects of their upbringing formed their thinking and how they influenced others to accept their thinking has always intrigued my mind.
The stories will not give you a full life biography on each person...just a synopsis of who the person is, what they did that was so revolutionary and how you can apply their actions to being innovative.
From Plato, Brunelleschi, Columbus, Copernicus, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Jefferson and Darwin to Gandhi and Einstein...each will challenge you to reflect on your own gifts and how you might see things differently.
I especially liked how the author provided with each story sections for personal reflection and excercises that allow you to share thoughts with others.
Even before I finished the book, I was already enjoying the discussions with my kids about their views on the subjects and quizzing their minds about how they would have handled the situations these great people were a part of.
I highly recommend this book, especially to those that are involved with consulting or facilitating others through innovation or creative expression in business.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2002
Tonight, on television, Tonya Harding is fighting Paula Jones.I won't be watching. Instead, I'll be re-reading my favorite parts of this extraordinary, uplifting book. In a world that tries to dumb us down with a never ending stream of lowest common demoninator nonsense, Gelb's book stand out like a Perfect Lotus in a muddy pond.The valuable lessons in history, art, politics, psychology, architecture, philosophy, literature, science, and music are more than just academic, they're brought home in a highly personal and engaging manner. I've also been listening to Gelb's "Discover Your Genius" music cd. as I read. Reading about Thomas Jefferson while listening to the "Jefferson" selection on the cd (Beethoven's ninth) on the night that the lights came up from Ground Zero, gave me a sense of appreciation for his "genius quality". "Celebrating Freedom in the Pursuit of Happiness"-- that, I won't forget.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 31, 2004
Michael Gelb provides readers with insightful glimpses of ten of history's most important thinkers. Each person offers a particular characteristic that Gelb emphasizes to teach the reader how he/she can imitate the great ones.

His profiles of each person also give the reader brief biographies covering the highlights of their lives and contributions. These were enlightening for the people I was not familar with before and even for the ones I am very familar with like Shakespeare. Gelb brings out details that are new to me about the famous Bard that I thought I knew inside and out.

He also discusses their weaknesses, such as Einstein's undisciplined personal life that contrasted greatly with his ideas of an orderly universe.

This book prompted me to do some creative thinking of my own and I hope it gave me some long-lasting ideas about how to develop and utilize my own abilities.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is a great time to be alive. There are endless possibilities and you can learn about any subject you want, at any time, in a very short period of time.

Michael has gathered ten great stories on ten great men like Einstein, Plato, Copernicus or Brunelleschi.

This book is an unusual approach to self-help. But what is unusual is often unique. And this is the case.

Michael makes you realize and discover your genius through beautiful stories and principles. While dreaming about these ten great revelutionary men, you will change your beliefs, affirm your identity, create a vision of your life.

By now, you understand why I higly recommend this book.

Emmanuel SEGUI - Creator of [...]
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2002
After reading and loving his book "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci," I was thrilled to find "Discover Your Genius." Each chapter was a unique personal gift that that will enrich my life both personally and professionally. This is a must-read for anyone in search of personal or professional growth! Thank you, Michael!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2007
There is no doubt that all of us have capabilities that are never given full reign.The world is filled with people who are quick to offer negative, suffocating advice. No doubt,many of us has been the recipient of nay-saying disservice that derailed our personal development.

Although his intentions may have been otherwise,Gelb's book, in its way, helps to overcome such negativity. By focusing on ten brilliant individuals ranging from Plato to Einstein, we are able to see what the make-up and environment was in the lives of these nine men and one woman who changed world thinking. It is enlightening to see what they overcame with their thinking and more importantly, how they came to think the way they did. Discover Your Genius is a significant book.
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