Saturday, February 23, 2008

How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci by Michael Gelb | Summary and Book Review

This is an enlightening 322 page book by Michael Gelb, published in 1998. Although I do not have a hard copy, I have the audio book read by Gelb himself.

This is a book that explores your inner creativity. It cultivates the genius inside of you, and, perhaps more importantly, it makes you realize that YOU have the potential to be a genius.

Your mind is more powerful than you think it is!

The book first gives a brief but interesting overview of Leonardo's life. Then it proceeds to tackle the Seven da Vincian Principles, as well as provides exercises to enhance these Seven Principles in you:

An insatiably curious approach. The continuous quest for learning is the powerhouse of the Da Vincian spirit.

An exercise is given to develop your Curiosita:
Make a list of 100 questions that are important to you.
Review the list and choose the 10 most significant.
Find a topic and ask 10 questions about it. Do the same for your career, relationship, and health.
Pick one question and contemplate.

A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

Examine experience.
Pick a topic and write down at least three ideas, opinions, assumptions, or beliefs on the topic.
Make the strongest argument against your beliefs. Are they really your beliefs? Or are they merely what you have been influenced to be believe?

The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight as the means to enliven experience.

Leonardo notes sadly that the average human 'looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.'

What's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? The sweetest sound you've ever heard? The most excuisitely tender touch? If you could bite into the music, what would it taste like?

Layered listening (listen to the loudest sounds, then the lesser sounds, and so on)
Expand your olfactory (smell) vocabulary
Reflect on the origins of the food you're tasting
Wine tasting
Touch objects blindfolded

A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty. Sfumato literally means "turn to mist", which describes the hazy quality of paintings of Leonardo.

'Great musicians claim that their art comes to life in the spaces between the notes.'

'Master sculptors point to the space around their work as the secret of its power.'

'the greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less.'

'leonardo would sometimes just spend half of the day just thinking, instead of painting...(incubation)'

'the art of incubation. incubation is most effective when you alternate, as leonardo did, between periods of intense focused work and rest. Without periods of intense focused work, there is nothing to be incubated.'

Describe three situations from your life where ambiguity was a factor.
Describe the feeling of anxiety.
Confusion endurance.
Learn to consult the 'unconscious database'

Whole brain thinking. The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination.

Mind Mapping
Use pictures, images, color-coding, stimulate creative association and enhance your memory.

The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.

Beware of anger and avoid grievous moods, rest your head and keep your mind cheerful, be covered well at night, exercise moderately, eat simple and chew well.
Mirror observations.
Make a drawing of your body.
Develop ambidexterity.

A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena.

Systems thinking.

"over the years, a number of scholars have criticized leonardo for the disorder of his notebooks... he scrawled notes in a random fashion."
"but leonardo's sense of connectedness was so all embracing that his observations are equally valid however they are related to one another. he saw how everything connected to everything else."

Notice patterns in nature
Use of imaginary dialogue
Think of the origins of things in your life
Micro/Macro contemplation
Create a mind map of your life from the perspective of the Seven Da Vincian Principles


Gelb, M. (1998). How to think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven steps to genius every day. Dell Publishing.

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