The Hidden Habits of Genius Book Summary - The Hidden Habits of Genius Book explained in key points
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The Hidden Habits of Genius summary

Craig Wright

Beyond Talent, IQ, and Grit – Unlocking the Secrets of Greatness

4.4 (312 ratings)
21 mins
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    The Hidden Habits of Genius
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    Look at the world through the eyes of a child

    There are few Halloween villains more familiar than Dr. Frankenstein’s famous monster – but did you know that his creator, Mary Shelley, was only 19 years old when she finished writing her iconic novel?

    In fact, she actually began work on the novel Frankenstein when she was just 18. After making a bet with her soon-to-be husband, poet Percy Shelley, and his friend Lord Byron about which of them could create the scariest story, the idea for the book suddenly seized her – and like that, a literary classic was born.

    There’s no denying that writing Frankenstein as a teenager is evidence of Mary Shelley’s genius – but maybe we’re wrong to look at Mary Shelley’s age as an obstacle she overcame. Maybe the fact that she wrote when her childhood wasn’t far behind her actually proved to be an advantage.

    The key message here is: Look at the world through the eyes of a child.

    Whereas Mary Shelley produced her finest work as a teenager, another genius, the artist Pablo Picasso, produced masterpieces even as he grew old. Unlike Shelley, Picasso isn’t primarily remembered for just one youthful creation – but that doesn’t mean that he can’t teach us something about the value of a childlike point of view.

    As a child, Picasso was mentored by his artist father, whose teaching helped the young Picasso to produce astounding and technically brilliant works of art from an early age. But there was a problem. 

    For all his paintings’ precision, they still lacked something key: real creativity and innovation – exactly what we mean when we use the word “genius.” So how did Picasso break out of the mold his father had set for him and begin painting in the daring way we’re familiar with today? It’s simple: he embraced a kind of childishness.

    Picasso himself said, “It takes a lot of time to become young.” The great artist had to learn how to channel childlike impulses in his art, and began experimenting with bold lines, cartoonish figures, and daring colors.

    So maybe we should think twice before encouraging children to grow up. As the examples of Mary Shelley and Picasso prove, a fresh, young, and somewhat childlike view of the world is often closer to genius than a grown-up perspective.

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    What is The Hidden Habits of Genius about?

    The Hidden Habits of Genius (2020) is a guide to the traits that set geniuses apart from the rest of us. Drawing on the lives of extraordinary creatives, thinkers, and disruptors from ancient Greece to modern Japan, it traces the factors that make up the complex and fascinating phenomenon that we call “genius.”

    Who should read The Hidden Habits of Genius?

    • Embryonic geniuses who want to reach their full potential
    • Students of human nature wondering what makes a genius tick
    • All those looking to boost their creative abilities

    About the Author

    Craig Wright is a professor of music at Yale University, where he teaches the sought-after course Exploring the Nature of Genius. Originally from Oklahoma, Wright is the author of Listening to Music and The Maze and the Warrior, among other works.

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