I'm off to something of a slow reading start this year. I finished my first book over a week ago, but I'm not really done with it (though I may be by the time I'm done writing this post). Setting Your Genius Free: How to Discover Your Spirit and Calling by Dick Richards is a book I viewed with much skepticism. Richards accounts for that possibility within the book and suggests the reader suspend her disbelief to engage in a thought experiment. Being most certainly within The Search and having found few answers, I figured it was worth trying something different.
His use of the word "genius" annoys me to no end and is really just another name for "core process," a concept he encountered at someone else's seminar and extrapolated from. Basically, the idea is that everyone has a unique way of interacting with their environments which when honored is their special gift to themselves and the world.
The thrust of the book is naming one's genius, thereby recognizing one's own driving skill or process, so one can take better advantage of his or her natural ability. Richards' rules for naming seem convenient to me, derived to ensure results that support his theory. A person can have only one genius because his naming rules say so. The name of a genius must consist of exactly one verb (ending in -ing) and one noun. Even if no two people he's worked with have come up with the same name for their respective geniuses, that's not proof that everyone's genius' name will be unique. If we generously suppose he's heard 100,000 distinct names of genius, his sample group would still only be .00155% of the world's population, hardly conclusive.
I suppose my biggest problem with the book is the idea that knowing the name of my unique genius will help me discover my unique mission in life. Again, "unique" is a source of trouble. When I imagine a world of people each pursuing a unique mission according to Richards' edicts, what I see is ultimately chaotic. However, the crux for me is this idea of mission. When I finished the book, nothing seemed more clear to me than the fact that I don't believe my life has an intrinsic purpose.
So, can this book be of any use to me? I'm not sure. It seems to me a person's core process, their genius, will manifest regardless of what their job is. That's sort of the point of core process: there's something that you (your brain/spirit/soul/whatever) always do when you encounter sensory data. Some environments will be more beneficial to certain people's processes while others will work against them. Given that, there may be something yet to be gained.
tags: Setting Your Genius Free: How to Discover Your Spirit and Calling, Dick Richards, book review, naming your genius , core process, self-help books, life mission