Thinking Like Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci

While recently attending the Fire Rescue International Conference in Denver, I took some time one evening and toured the Da Vinci Machines Exhibition at the Denver Pavilions. On loan from the Museum of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence, Italy the exhibit featured more than 60 interactive models based on his original 500-year-old concepts.

All of the models were interesting, featuring Da Vinci’s military and flying machines, and many other tools for productivity. But I found one particular piece of equipment that really hit close to home. The movable Scaling Ladder, designed to be raised and lowered at will, is similar to ladders used by today’s firefighters. It amazes me how many century-old designs remain such a part of our world today.

Something else that struck me in the gift shop was the book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael J. Gelb. Leonardo was a continuous learner, always thinking about how to improve himself and the world around him. I read the book a few years ago and wrote this article based on it called Resolve to Keep Learning.

Probably more valuable than his many scientific and artistic achievements, Da Vinci’s approach to knowledge and learning set the stage for our modern way of thinking both critically and creatively. We need to keep our brains stimulated to allow us to view new challenges in a new light.

Following is a brief overview of Da Vinci’s Seven Principles for solving problems, thinking creatively, and harmonizing your body and mind.

  • Curiosita: An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
  • Dimonstrazione: A commitment to test knowledg through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
  • Sensazione: The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
  • Sfumato: A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  • Arte/Scienza: The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. “Whole-Brain” thinking.
  • Corporalita: The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
  • Connessione: A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

In an age of complexity and chaos, Leonardo da Vinci’s principles continue to exhibit the unlimited potential all of us have to learn and make a difference. Read more about Leonardo!

Like Leonardo, are you asking the right questions? How can you improve your ability to learn? What is your plan for sharpening your senses? How can you nurture the balance of your mind and body?

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