How to become a Genius like Napoleon Bonaparte

The impression I have of Napoleon’s genius is that he was able to see into the heart of whatever problem or challenge – military, administrative or otherwise – that he was facing and come up with a rapid solution in very few words. He was able to see the point (understand the situation facing him) and come up with an effective response unfailingly.

How did Napoleon develop these qualities?

There are many answers to that question. Do a Google search for secret of Napoleon’s genius and you will come up with a ton of results

My answer – he read Plutarch.

I first came across Plutarch’s Lives as a teenager. My grandfather – a distinguished civil servant – had the book in his small library at home. I read it then but sound it a bit dry even though Plutarch wrote biographies and told stories. I was mostly interested in entertainment in my choice of books at that time.

Recently I picked up my copy of Plutarch and started to read. And I was struck by how Plutarch compresses the maximum amount of insight and content in the fewest possible words. In having this quality he was not unique. All – or most – books that are classics express themselves well.

If you read and reread books (preferably the classics) – especially when you are young – it begins to shape the way you speak and think. I have it on good authority that Napoleon was a voracious reader all his life and I also know that Plutarch was one of his favourites in his impressionable years. And that must have shaped him as a person.

Dale Carnegie has written many classics on self-help but the one book that influenced me the most was How to Develop Self-Confidence & Influence People By Public Speaking. In the last chapter of the book he describes how the great American president, Abraham Lincoln, went about his intellectual development. The chapter is titled Improving your Diction but it is no less than a very effective and inspiring course on how you can change yourself and build your character and personality through books. The Kindle edition is available for Rs 39/- here in India.

I have written on this subject in an earlier blog article. Link is below.  But it will be better if you read Carnegie.

Back to Plutarch and Napoleon:

Napoleon used to read Plutarch repeatedly when he was young. And in doing so I think he – so to speak – served his apprenticeship and got himself Plutarch as a mentor. I have trained as a CA and I know how serving an apprenticeship under a skilled and qualified person enables you to learn new skills. It is not just the fact that trade secrets are revealed to you. You also change as a person. Your thinking changes.

This was not the only factor in Napoleon’s success of course. Paul Brunton described him as a yogi – a person who had developed his full potential. If you combine the habits of study that I am advocating with the practice of yoga then it is possible that you will also scale great heights in life and in your career.

Here is an article listing down what Napoleon liked to read:

I’ll end here. Please share this article on WA, FB and Twitter and let me have your comments. Any questions – just ask.

Find this handy. Buy me a coffee

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: