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July 1, 2020

7 Steps to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael Gelb

Was Leonardo da Vinci an artist who excelled in science? Or was he a scientist who excelled in art? That is a matter of debate. What is absolutely known is that he was kind and generous. Michael Gelb describes below 7 features that epitomize “the Master.”


In this blog, we will discuss the characteristics, that collectively, made Leonardo da Vince a genius.


  • Curiosity:  An insatiable curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning. Interestingly, I have found a term in common usage at only one institution in the world. The term is “intellectual curiosity,” coined by Stanford University. Also of note is the motto of Harvard University, “Veritas,” meaning the search for truth. Great universities place a premium on students, faculty and scholars that both search for and create new knowledge. More importantly, they ask compelling questions and search for answers that solve the world’s most perplexing and important problems.


  • While we spend so much time trying to find the right answers. More important is to ask the “right questions.”


  • Independent Thinking:  This is a commitment to test knowledge through experience, scientific research; all while willing to make and learn from mistakes. Too often people don’t ask questions. Then they draw important conclusions that are based on emotions, rumors, unsubstantiated information, biases and prejudices. Better to ask questions, then us your logic, data and science and critical-thinking skills.


  • Wise is the person that critically examines his own work, his opinions, his assumptions and beliefs, and that of others.


  • Refine Your Senses: The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as a means to clarify our experiences. The art of wine tasting through gazing and swirling (visual sense), smelling (nasal olfaction sense) and tasting (sour, bitter, sweet) is one example as to enhance the senses.


  • Practice Silence/Stillness is the Key:  Spend a whole day in nature, walking in the woods, hiking in the mountains, strolling by the sea, not talking, just listening. This ‘verbal fasting’ strengthens your ability to listen deeply and is wonderfully refreshing for the spirit.


  • Study the Masters: Study the lives and work of your favorite artists for a week, three months or a year. This is another tool to improve the senses.


  • Taste Your Food: Eat slowly, smell the fruits and meats as they pass in front of the nose and over the various regions of the tongue.


  • Embrace Chaos & Uncertainty: Live in the moment and accept your fate. Be willing to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty. It is best to appreciate and accept that which you cannot control: the weather, your health, your wealth and the actions or criticisms of others. This is okay. Pessimism is not a healthy virtue. Optimism is. Nothing great was ever accomplished focusing on the negative or having an unnaturally negative or fearful outlook.


  • List and briefly describe three situations from your life where ambiguity reigns.


  • Whole-Brain Thinking: The development of the balance between science and art; logic & imagination.                                                       
  • Was da Vinci an artist who studied science, or a scientist who studied art? Clearly, he was both, giving support to why many colleges base the foundation of teaching on a strong liberal arts education.
  • Studying both the arts and the sciences with enthusiasm is a sure way to cultivate and engage both your right and left brain.


  • Mind, Body, Health & Fitness:  The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, health, fitness and poise.                                            
  • “It is also a very good plan every now and then to go away and have a little relaxation; for when you come back to work your judgement will be surer.” Da Vinci


  • Healthy habits prevent or delay certain health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.


  • Systems Thinking:  The recognition and appreciation for the connectedness of all things and phenomena. For example, it is a valid assumption that not just doctors and nurses, but patients, administrators, families, janitors, cooks, counselors, legislators and scientists all have a responsibility for improving the health of individual patients and the community as a whole.


  • This is the understanding that all things are connected, and interdependent. In other words, for patients as individuals and for the health of society in general, the appreciation that doctors and all within a society must work together to improve a community’s health. Departments must work together. Hospitals and hospital systems must work together. Governments and the private sector must work in collaboration for all to reap the greatest health benefits.


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