Leonardo DaVinci might have been the greatest genius the world has ever known because he was curious, driven and diverse. He wasn’t content with the same old view. He didn’t just try to be better, faster or cheaper. No, he was committed to being thorough. Throughout his life, “his inexhaustible quest for truth also inspired him to look at reality from unusual and extreme perspectives.” (p. 54) That led to him studying and drawing his subjects from three different perspectives. That is definitely getting off the railroad tracks.
I’m fascinated studying disruptive individuals like Einstein and DaVinci because, as Gelb (1998) argues in “How to Think Like DaVinci”, genius isn’t just born, it can be developed. That means you and I can shift our perspectives, hone our abilities and find our opportunities by disrupting our inner world. When we re-engineer our thinking habits we will find great opportunities. That means leaving the railroad tracks and forging our own trail.
Change Your Perspective
Leonardo Da Vinci was a true Renaissance man because he was interested in invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. (I’m exhausted just thinking about all that he did.)
How did he do it? He relied upon 7 principles that led to him becoming the greatest genius to ever live. The seven are:
1. Insatiable curiosity.
The key to developing our genius and derailing our traditional thinking is to become passionate about learning everything.
I think of my five-year-old grandson who is extremely curious. He is always asking questions and wanting to learn more.
- Let your inner child out. Become insatiable in learning about everything you can.
2. A commitment to test knowledge through experience.
A theory is great but without practical knowledge, it isn’t worth much. With that said, the experience is limited without curiosity for how others are doing it better.
Are you just relying on your own experience?
- What ideas do you have that need to be thoroughly tested?
3. The continual refinement of the five senses.
DaVinci trained his senses so he could observe better. Learning to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. I’m mindful that wine enthusiasts actively work to detect smells and tastes to appreciate the best wines. Honing those skills broadens our experience and helps us to see new opportunities.
- By focusing on your sight, what new opportunities do you see?
- By focusing on your hearing, what trends do you detect?
- By focusing on your sense of smell, what breakthroughs do you detect?
4. A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
I love history so following the train tracks is intriguing, looking to see how leaders a century earlier found the best way to connect remote places. It is fascinating to see where they took the easy path and where they had no other choice but to tunnel through a mountain. In the same way, as we embrace the challenging uncertainties, we can now go where others before us could not.
- What difficult issues can you embrace today?
- By exploring what isn’t certain, what new opportunities do you see?
5. Whole Brain Thinking: The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination.
Many of us work on specialization, focusing only on a very narrow group of topics. After all, we need to be experts. But DaVinci wasn’t content with a narrow focus but instead developed an amazing sense of intellectual balance. Many dismiss this as a rare gift. But many are discovering great opportunities by fusing two very different methods, ideas or perspectives.
- How can you blend science and art to discover a new opportunity in your business?
- How can you combine logic and imagination to create a new product or service?
6. The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise,
If you have been following me, you know that seven years ago I started running. I’m not a fast runner but am determined to see how far and how fast I can run. That isn’t real common in men in their mid-50s. But as I trained my body to get stronger and faster, I found myself thinking differently. I started pushing harder, looking beyond the pain to the accomplishment. Before it was easy to back off. The pinnacle (to this point) came two months ago when I ran a marathon. At first, I wondered how I would run 3 miles but with time and training, I ran 26.2. Over the course of 14 months, I ran 130 miles in races. Please understand, I still don’t love running. It is a chore but I welcome it because of the results it brings.
Along the way, I noticed my thinking changed. Instead of quitting when I became uncomfortable, I trained my mind to push through and set bigger challenges. That was not only on the course but also in my business. We tend to think bigger when we cultivate fitness.
- I challenge you to push yourself beyond what you normally do physically. Lose some weight or get in shape. In the process, how does your thinking change?
7. Systems Thinking: A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena.
DaVinci might have been the greatest genius because he was able to connect everything. “He sought to combine and connect disparate elements to form new patterns.” (Gelb, p. 222).
- Think about two things that never seem to be connected, such as pizza and plastic. Brainstorm with your team and see what ideas emerge.
- What new patterns do you see?
Disrupting your thinking won’t be easy. It will be uncomfortable and you might not be very popular at times. But in the end, it will all be worth it. Why? Because you will learn to lead your own life, find the best opportunities and make more money (if that is your goal.)
Are you ready and willing to be disrupted?
(c) 2018 Loren Murfield
THINK BIGGER – REACH HIGHER!
Loren Murfield, Ph.D. I work with clients to think bigger and reach higher. Frequently, clients tell me, “Wow, I hadn’t thought about it like that before.” I love seeing them raise their standards and step up their performance, and do what they previously considered “impossible.” At that point, I help them write their legacy book. Contact me today to begin creating your legacy and then leaving it for generations to come.
Check out a brand new revision of my first book, “Chevettes to Corvettes: Unleashing the Ultimate Small Business.”