We tend to throw the word “genius” around pretty casually, saying so-and-so has a genius for a particular skill, or sarcastically pointing out someone’s failure by saying, “Nice work, genius!”
But what makes an actual genius, a genius?
My guest today has spent over two decades exploring that question by studying the world’s most iconic and original thinkers and creators, both past and present. His name is Craig Wright, he’s a professor emeritus of music at Yale who continues to teach a course there called “Exploring the Nature of Genius,” and he’s the author of The Hidden Habits of Genius: Beyond Talent, IQ, and Grit—Unlocking the Secrets of Greatness. Today on the show Craig reveals the characteristics and patterns of behavior of true geniuses, and begins by answering the questions of whether there’s a connection between genius and intelligence, and whether genius is hereditary. We talk about several drivers of genius, including situational advantages, a childlike ability to play with possibilities, a keen curiosity, a strong memory, broad interests and vision, the ability to toggle between intense concentration and loose relaxation, and keeping a daily routine. We then discuss whether there’s a connection between genius and mental health issues, and what effect being a genius tends to have on someone’s personal life. Along the way, Craig illustrates his points with examples from the lives of Mozart, da Vinci, Steve Jobs, and more.
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- What makes a person or idea “genius”?
- Is there a connection between intelligence and genius?
- The inheritability of genius
- How situational advantage elevates some over others
- The benefits of a lifelong child-like worldview
- The value of curiosity
- Going broad vs. going deep
- Is there any connection between mental illness and genius?
- The tattered personal lives of most geniuses
Resources/Articles/People Mentioned in Podcast
- The Art and Science of Creating Good Luck
- Mensa International
- How to Be a Creative Genius Like da Vinci
- The Geography of Genius
- Play It Away
- Follow Your Curiosity
- The Hidden Pleasures of Learning For Its Own Sake
- How and Why to Become a Lifelong Learner
- The Strange Toilet Humor of Mozart
- Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
- To Succeed in Work and Life, Be Mr. T
- Make Every Day a Good Day With This Morning Routine
- Establish a Daily Routine
- Lessons in Unmanliness From Victor Frankenstein
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