Think Like da Vinci
Gelb has condensed da Vinci’s teachings into seven principles:
- Be curious. “An accurate description of da Vinci would be ‘the most curious person who ever lived,’” Gelb said. “He was so curious; one critic said he wouldn’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.” At a time when no one questioned anything, da Vinci questioned everything. As we speed into a networked information age, you’d be wise to do the same thing, Gelb advised.
- Think for yourself. Da Vinci was not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. Test knowledge through experience.
- Sharpen your senses. “According to da Vinci, the five senses are the ministers of the soul,” Gelb said. “He trained his sensory awareness the same way Olympic athletes train their bodies. He warned against being locked and blocked by the same thought processes.”
- Embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty. One of the most significant characteristics of highly creative people is their openness to the unknown and willingness to use their intuition. “As a leading thinker, da Vinci learned to translate imagination into a technical language,” Gelb stated. “Major breakthroughs are experienced through intuition. Einstein, for example, imagined what it would be like to surf out into the universe on a sunbeam.”
- Balance art and science, logic, and imagination with intuition. “The approach da Vinci followed was based on the thinking that if you hope to innovate you’re going to have to cut loose from conventional grooves,” Gelb said. “The problem is people are either stuck in a right- or left-brained world. The techie of the new millennium will have to be a balanced thinker—creative, analytical, rigorous, playful, and imaginative.
- Balance body and mind. In addition to being mentally sharp, da Vinci was a fitness freak who said, ”Avoid grievous moods and keep your mind cheerful.” He also insisted that attitude affects well being and stressed the importance of keeping mind and body lean and active. (And you thought your trainer was smart.)
- Try to see how everything connects to everything else. “That’s systems thinking,” Gelb explained. “He said you have to see patterns, relationships, and processes and how they all fit together.”