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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

Leonardo w butterfly Is it absurd to even dare to dream that we regular folks could embody anything even close to the creative genius of Leonardo da Vinci? A man who played such a pivotal role in the evolution of human intellectual, artistic, and scientific thinking.

By going through Michael Gelb’s wonderful book of the title above, many of us certainly can unleash considerably more of our own creative geniuses. A lifelong scholar on Leonardo da Vinci's life and work, the author identifies and details seven basic habits cultivated by the maestro that enhanced da Vinci's gifts and enriched his life.  Gelb’s book also offers a range of great exercises that will enable those who practice them to nourish their own innovative capacities while enhancing the quality of their lives and enjoyment.  — Perhaps some of us will want to experiment with some of these together, and report out on any "ah-ha" moments?

As I summarize some of these practices over the next couple of weeks, thanks to the miracles of modern podcasting technology — we are going to be blessed with a couple of special guest appearances related to this captivating book! 

Here now, is a list of the seven practices. In subsequent posts, I’ll go into more detail of the various habits and summarize some of the suggested related exercises. The Italian words are listed first, in honor of the maestro’s native tongue. Those that also happen to be referred to by the stand-out leaders in the IBM study (coincidence? hmm..) are bolded in blue, and the subsequent posts will discuss some of those parallels, as well.

  1. Curiosità – Curiosity*: An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning. (My note: A willingness to ask key questions.)
  2. Dimostrazione – A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
  3. Sensazione — The continual refinement of the senses as the means to enliven experience. 
  4. Sfumato (“going up in smoke”) – A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  5. Arte/Scieza – The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. “Whole-brain thinking.”
  6. Corporalita – The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
  7. Connessione A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

*Curiosità was a topic recently covered in the “Asking the Right Questions” post. It is telling that it is first on the list.

I'll leave you with one quote from the book related to a classic study on higher education and the low rate of retention, even a month after final exams, at a top university.  This harkens back to a critique I posed in an earlier post: "The authority-pleasing, question-suppressing, rule-following approach to education (and I would add, doing business) may have served to provide society with assembly-line workers and bureaucrats, but it does not do much to prepare us for a new Renaiassance." 

A new renaissance is exactly what is needed with innovative approaches to how we run our organizations and governments, conduct our commerce, and engage our citizens.

Ciao for now!

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