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Leonardo da Vinci's creative process
How to approach problem-solving like da Vinci
The importance of curiosity and observation
We all have an innate sense of curiosity that we can cultivate. It starts with asking questions. The most brilliant minds spend their entire lives asking questions about confounding issues. Leonardo’s mission in life was a pursuit of truth and beauty, which led to his own inquisitiveness.
"Just as food eaten without appetite is a tedious nourishment, so does study without zeal damage the memory by not assimilating what it absorbs."
Test your ideas and those of others through experience and original thought. Never stop learning, exploring, or experimenting, even if it results in failure
First-hand experience (including disasters, failures and mistakes) is the best way to test and improve on existing practices, and to develop new wisdom, know-how and independent thinking.
"Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience, it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason."
Our senses are the only means by which we can experience the world around us.
According to Leonardo, the average man “looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odor or fragrance, and talks without thinking.”
In order to truly appreciate life and take in the beauty around us, we need to develop and refine our senses, especially that of sight.
"Common sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses."
Sfumato translates to “going up in smoke.” Leonardo applied this principle in his paintings by creating hazy, ambiguous scenes with gossamer-thin layers of paint.
Learn to confront the unknown (and unknowable) and embrace mystery, paradox, and uncertainty to let them fuel your creative genius. In an ever-changing world, having poise in the face of paradox is key to being effective and also retaining your sanity
One of Da Vinci’s most unique qualities was to see the art in science and science in the arts. You can learn to connect the right and left brains through a powerful exercise called mind mapping. Leonardo suggested going “straight into nature” to find understanding and clarity. Everything in nature is made up of networks of sinuous, branched, and nonlinear paths.
Mind mapping is a way to link ideas and information naturally without immediate need for sequential organization.
Da Vinci was strong, handsome, and graceful in addition to his artistic and scientific genius. He placed emphasis on eating well (he was a vegetarian) and being physically active.
Leonardo had a deep appreciation for the connectedness of things—drawing correlations between hair and flowing water, the human body and the earth, and the oneness of nature. He found order in chaos, and had a profound appreciation for the mysteries of life and nature.
The interconnectedness of things is most evident during extreme times, e.g. financial crises, epidemics, weddings, etc.
"As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death."
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