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.