There are numerous books that promise to help you "think like a genius", or like Einstein, or even - if Einstein isn't good enough - How To Think Like History's 10 Most Revolutionary Minds. But they're beset with problems. Some try to teach a "secret formula", even though following someone else's five-step system is surely antithetical to genius. Some confuse correlation with causation: Thomas Jefferson was an early riser, and he basically invented the US, so you should get up early, too! Others are plain odd. In How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Gelb recommends doing an "ambiguity dance" to express feelings about uncertainty. I can't imagine Leonardo doing an ambiguity dance. Though if he had done, maybe he'd have come up with a flying machine that actually worked, the loser.
"Genius" is a slippery word, anyway. The American neuroscientist Gregory Berns uses a different term as the title of his new book on thinking differently: Iconoclast. Looking at original thinking as "iconoclastic" - as disruptive of the usual ways we're conditioned to see the world - turns out to be much more useful. It may even help you think a bit more like Leonardo.
Berns' starting point is that the brain "is fundamentally a lazy piece of meat": it needs energy to operate, and has evolved to use it as efficiently as possible. So when it perceives the outside world, or imagines things, the average brain uses as many short cuts as it can - past experience, other people's opinions - to avoid the taxing effort of perceiving or imagining afresh. It's literally harder work to perceive what you're not expecting to perceive, which is why airport security screeners who watch thousands of harmless bags roll by will at times fail to notice even a very prominent gun.