Leonardo da Vinci

The da Vincian Life Series


Overview of 7 da Vincian Principles

Leonardo da Vinci is the original Renaissance Man.You can read more about his influence from “da Vinci – Greatest Individual Contributor of all time” that I wrote. John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. Studying the life of Leonardo da Vinci can help any leader increase their influence.   There are 3 facts that fascinate me about da Vinci:

1. He didn’t live in a box.  How he made a living didn’t define him.

2. He withstood criticism and stayed true to a live of learning.  Anybody who dissected bodies at that time was considered a witch by the church.

3. He contributed to several fields of study. He is the definition of Renaissance Man.  Quite simply he led the most productive life in human history. So the question remains as to why we, with all our modern technology, get boxed into being defined by our day jobs?

I  will write a series of posts based on 7 principles we can glean from Leonardo’s life and how to apply them to our time.  Source material is Micheal Gelb’s book “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci”

Here is the overview of the 7 principles (in English)  Mr. Gelb outlined in his book:


Curiosity didn’t kill the cat. Curiosity is the foundation of genius.  da Vinci asked a lot of questions and sought the answers. He had an insatiable need to learn.


Leonardo committed to testing knowledge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes.


Continual refinement of the senses enhance experience. This principle was probably the one that shocked me the most about da Vinci’s life.  But after studying, it makes sense (no pun intended).


The mind has a need to feel safe.  With that need comes the opportunity to make assumptions, improper judgements and mistakes.  da Vinci disciplined himself to embrace ambiguity, uncertainty and paradox.


Simply put, this is whole brain thinking. Balancing the logical with imagination

Physical Fitness

Michael Gelb calls this Coporalita – the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise.


This is systems thinking. Learning to recognize the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena.

Most of these principles may be common sense to you. I believe it’s the collective practice of these principles that will make us better individuals and leaders.