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DaVinci's Genius Habits
By Linda Dessau | Updated September 16, 2018
Be honest, now. Have you ever used your creativity as an excuse for being disorganized? Or claimed any other cliched artist trait like being flaky, bad with money, late or scatter-brained?
“Arte/Scienza: The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. 'Whole-brain' thinking”, is a chapter in Michael J. Gelb's, How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Arte/Scienza is one of seven principles that the book explores.
Gelb writes, “Left-brainers think, ‘I'm sorry, I'm left-brained. I can't possibly be creative or imaginative.’ And right-brainers make the mistake of programming themselves: ‘Well, I'm right-brained I can't possibly come to meetings on time (170).’”
So it's not just artists. Right- or left-brained, we've all become victims of our stereotypes. Though most of us draw on both sides of the brain much more than we think, we usually get boxed into thinking we're predominantly wired to either imagination OR logic.
One method that Da Vinci used and Gelb explains exquisitely is mind-mapping. “Mind mapping is a whole-brain method for generating and organizing ideas, originated by Tony Buzan, and largely inspired by Da Vinci's approach to note taking (169).”
Mind mapping encourages you to spread your ideas out, one-by-one, in a graphic way versus a linear way.
Mind-mapping helps you to be a more balanced thinker because it draws on your imaginative and creative abilities AS WELL AS your organizational and analytical abilities.
“Be sure you know the structure of all you wish to depict” (from Da Vinci's, Treatise on Painting (167).
I love structure. One of my strengths as a writer is to pull together and organize thoughts into a coherent whole with a clear topic and sub-topics that are easy to identify and follow.
And, what I've noticed is that I can't start with the structure, I have to start with the ideas.
“It is just plain illogical to try to organize your ideas before you've generated them (171).”
When I remember to use a tool like mind mapping or free writing to brainstorm and generate ideas, I'm blessed with a much bigger pool of thoughts and possibilities to fit within a structure for my end product.
I've used mind mapping recently, with very successful results. It was to create an article for my newsletter with a topic I'd been pondering for months, and been collecting opinions and feedback from readers and experts beforehand.
I was left feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to turn it all into a coherent piece! My solution? Maybe I'll try a mind map!
As a result I was able to pull together all of my thoughts as well as the quotes and interviews I'd collected. The mind map loosened me up and, most importantly, got me into action!
There's no reason we have to settle for scattered thoughts just because we're creative. And there's no reason to settle for a mediocre trickle of ideas because we desire a structured finished product.
We can enlist both parts of our brain to work together and watch our creativity pour forth AND take shape.
Creativity Portal's Learning from Leonardo series is based on the seven principles in Michael Gelb's How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.
Inspiring practices for artists, scientists, and inventors modeled by DaVinci.
Davinci made the most of the left- and right-sides of his brain as seen in his note taking, likely inspiring Tony Buzan's technique of mind mapping.
Davinci's genius was enhanced by his willingness to be open to anything and embracing ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty.
Davinci jumped right into the moment of his experiences, challenging long-standing beliefs and opinions.
Davinci knew his body was a strong house for his creativity and took care of it by practicing the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
Davinci's continuous refinement of his five senses enhanced his ability to work and think.
Davinci's appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things enabled him to see and use the larger picture to his advantage.
DaVinci cultivated an insatiably curious approach to life.