How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci

I’m spending the next days at the “Happiness and Its Causes” conference.  I’m seeking answers to my own questions around personal happiness but also hoping to find inspiration around creativity and design thinking as well. Today’s workshop was a perfect exploration of creative thinking, art, philosophy and brain science – “How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci” with Michael Glebe.

Apart from refuelling some desire to travel to Italy and study art history again ….there are almost TOO many good things to really note down and share, and may come more in smaller blog posts.

The main points to note are 7 Da Vinci principles that can help shape approaches to life, work and design:

1.) Curiosità:
An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
Every child is born with passionate curiosity and a natural love of learning. But once we go to school, answers seem to become more important than questions and the fear of failure becomes stronger than the passion to explore. One of the best ways to foster curiosity as an adult is to keep a notebook.

2.) Dimostrazione:
A Commitment to test knowledge through experience and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
Leonardo was one of the least pious and superstitious thinkers of his time. At a time when few questioned anything, he questioned everything.  Most importantly, he recognised that to challenge the dominant worldview, you must first challenge your own preconceptions, declaring: “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”

3.) Sensazione:
The continual refinement of the senses as the means to enliven experience.
“The average person looks without seeing, hears without listening, touches without feeling, breathes in without awareness of fragrance, eats without tasting and talks without thinking,” wrote da Vinci. Like Leonardo, you should endeavour to create an aesthetically uplifting working environment.

4.) Sfumato:
A willingness to embrace paradox and strengthen intuition.
Sfumato represents a distinguishing characteristic of highly creative individuals: the ability to embrace uncertainty. You can strengthen your intuition by understanding its body and emotion-centred nature. Every culture uses terms like “I knew it in my gut.” But the gut doesn’t send text messages or emails. Learn to pause, breathe and listen within. And remember — poise in the face of paradox is the key not only to effectiveness, but sanity in a rapidly changing world.

5.) Arte/Scienza:
The balance between logic and imagination.
In addition to creating great art, Leonardo was a trailblazer in the fields of anatomy, architecture,cartography, engineering, geology and mathematics. In his notebooks, Leonardo explains his creative process: “Letting the mind go free… to think of thousands of things… which you may then reduce to their complete and proper forms.” In modern parlance, Leonardo is stimulating the imagination (right brain) to generate ideas then using analysis (left brain) to organise them. Mind mapping — creating diagrams with ideas arranged around a central concept or word — is a contemporary, practical version of this process.

6) Corporalità:
The cultivation of grace, fitness and poise.
Renowned as the strongest man in Florence, he was much admired for his grace, poise and good looks. He counsels us that health can be preserved by efforts to “avoid grievous moods and keep your mind cheerful”. He also advocated a diet of fresh, wholesome food and a moderate intake of red wine.

7.) Connessione:
An appreciation for the interconnectedness of things.
Leonardo believed that “everything connects to everything else”. If you want to increase your understanding of, and ability to function effectively in, your workplace, ask yourself connessione questions, such as: what are the roles of all the stakeholders associated with my workplace? How are their roles interdependent? What happens to the group’s dynamics under stress? How do the patterns of functioning I learned in my family affect the way I operate at work?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s