The Hidden Habits of Genius: Beyond Talent and IQ

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Duration 01:05:58

Yale University

Craig Wright holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard and has taught at Yale for more than forty-five years, where he continues to offer “The Genius Course” each year. Professor Wright has published several books on music and cultural history, including his latest, The Hidden Habits of Genius. Yale has recognized Wright’s contribution to undergraduate teaching in the form of its two most prestigious prizes: the Sewall Prize and the DeVane Medal. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago and in 2011 was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Looking at the 14 key traits of genius, from curiosity to obsession, Professor Craig Wright, creator of Yale University’s popular “Genius Course,” explores what we can learn from brilliant minds that have changed the world and common habits that geniuses share.  Einstein. Beethoven. Picasso. Jobs. The word genius evokes these iconic figures, whose cultural contributions have irreversibly shaped society.

Yet Beethoven could not multiply. Picasso couldn’t pass a 4th grade math test. And Jobs left high school with a 2.65 GPA.What does this say about our metrics for measuring success and achievement today? Why do we teach children to behave and play by the rules, when the transformative geniuses of Western culture have done just the opposite? And what is genius, really?

Examining the lives of transformative individuals ranging from Charles Darwin and Marie Curie to Leonardo Da Vinci and Andy Warhol to Toni Morrison and Elon Musk, Wright identifies more than a dozen drivers of genius, characteristics and patterns of behavior common to great minds throughout history. He argues that genius is about more than intellect and work ethic and that the famed “eureka” moment is a Hollywood fiction. Brilliant insights that change the world are never sudden, but rather, they are the result of unique modes of thinking and lengthy gestation. Most importantly, the habits of mind that produce great thinking and discovery can be actively learned and cultivated, and Professor Wright will explain how.



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Excellent presentation, solid examples, and reasoned concepts.
Thank you.

6 months ago
Maggie Olmstead

Good talk

If you’re like me, and got turned off by the very specific “definition of genius” at the beginning, hang in there! There’s lots of good material later on – particularly the part about unplugging and letting your own thoughts go where they will. That’s good advice, whether or not you are (or aspire to be) a genius.

3 months ago
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