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Discover Your Genius: How to Think Like History's Ten Most Revolutionary Minds Paperback – January 21, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The introduction to Discover Your Genius shows off the double meaning of the book's title in plain language: it is meant to help you find both your own potential for greatness and a meaningful role model to provide focus. In an effort to lead you to both simultaneously, Michael J. Gelb has created a combination workbook, guided journal, and historical biography of 10 outstanding humans.

Arranged chronologically, Discover Your Genius begins with Plato and ends with Einstein, meeting up with Brunelleschi, Columbus, Copernicus, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Jefferson, Darwin, and Ghandi in between. Each chapter highlights a few specific achievements while analyzing the methods and motivations of the geniuses in question.

Accompanying exercises encourage you to talk with friends, create lists and goals, seek additional reading and musical selections, and uncover your dreams. From designing a personal coat of arms filled with meaningful symbols to developing the habit of taking regular walks, these exercises balance quickly achievable activities with ongoing life changes. Several chapters urge you to involve your friends, with evenings of special, themed dinners, like the toga party with Symposium Lamb Delight, gallons of wine, and recitations of personal "odes to love."

What you'll get out of all this is dependent on your own individual views of history and politics, but keep in mind it's hard to find a truly great figure who is not controversial. If you are able to overlook the inherent hypocrisy in, for example, Thomas Jefferson (slave owner) as bastion of personal freedom, and the great explorers' (Columbus) direct responsibility for a number of known atrocities, you'll find plenty to ponder and enjoy. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Strategies for thinking smart drawn from Plato, Queen Elizabeth I, and more.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (January 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060937904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060937904
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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