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Think Like a Genius – How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci stands as an enduring icon of what human potential can achieve, a paragon of the Renaissance spirit that embraced knowledge, creativity, and innovation in all its forms. Five centuries may have passed since his era, but the genius of da Vinci remains timeless and incredibly relevant to modern minds. His way of thinking, learning, and seeing the world was a deliberate and conscious application of several key principles, which we can all adopt to enhance our creativity, innovation, and personal growth.

In this extensive exploration, we will teach you to unlock your inner da Vinci by dissecting his seven principles of creative thinking like a genius, illustrating how they are still applicable in today’s world, and showcasing the incredible benefits they bring. This isn’t about turning you into a carbon copy of da Vinci; it’s about harnessing the essence of his methods to improve the quality of your thinking and your life.

Leonardo’s Legacy: Relevance in the Modern Age

Leonardo’s notoriety as a polymath—a person with expertise in many areas—sets him apart as a singular genius. Yet what truly distinguished him was his remarkable cognitive approach which transcended the silos of knowledge. He emphasized the interconnectedness of disciplines, understanding that no domain exists in isolation. In a world that often compartmentalizes education and expertise, da Vinci’s insatiably curious approach to learning and life is a breath of fresh air, and its value in unlocking new possibilities is immeasurable.

Leonardo’s treasure trove of ideas, theories, and observations came to us through his copious notebooks, which were found long after his death. Filled with over 7,000 pages of sketches, scientific diagrams, and personal musings, these notebooks offer an unparalleled window into the mind of a genius. Their discovery was piecemeal, happening centuries after da Vinci’s time, with pages scattered across private collections and public institutions around the globe. The notebooks, written in his famous mirror script, were initially cryptic not only because of the reverse writing but also due to Leonardo’s habit of jumping from topic to topic. Over time, da Vinci’s notebooks have been carefully studied, translated, and compiled, giving birth to a renewed interest in da Vinci’s work and allowing his genius to inspire generations beyond his own.

In today’s fast-paced and complex world, we are often expected to specialize in a specific field and become masters of it. However, da Vinci reminds us that our minds are not limited to one area of expertise; they have the potential to excel in various disciplines if given the opportunity to do so. By embracing this interdisciplinary mindset, we can break through traditional boundaries and find innovative solutions to real-world problems.

The Seven da Vincian Principles

Leonardo’s way of thinking was guided by seven interdependent principles, each a stepping stone towards a more fully-formed and profound emerging understanding of reality. These principles are not just mere theoretical guides but pathways to a practical and engaged form of cognitive exploration.

Curiosità: The Quest for Knowledge and Experience

Da Vinci’s insatiable curiosity was the driving force behind his intellect. Today, the principle of Curiosità translates into fostering a love for lifelong learning, constantly asking questions, and seeking new experiences.

How to Cultivate Curiosità

  • Alleviate the fear of the unknown and replace it with a joy for discovery.
  • Adopt a beginner’s mindset in all endeavors.
  • Harness the power of ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’

Dimostrazione: Learning from Experience

This principle emphasizes the importance of empirical knowledge over untested theorization. It encourages the meticulous observation of facts and the use of scientific methods for analysis.

Applying Dimostrazione

  • Keep a journal of observations and experiences.
  • Regularly conduct experiments, even on a small scale.
  • Engage in mental rehearsals and simulations to anticipate different outcomes.

Sensazione: Sharpening the Senses

For da Vinci, Sensazione meant developing heightened sensory awareness. By focusing on individual experiences, it was possible to refine one’s perceptions and intellect.

Heightening Sensazione

  • Engage in mindfulness practices.
  • Practice the art of conscious observation.
  • Self expression experiences through art, writing, or conversation.

Sfumato: Embrace Ambiguity

Da Vinci was comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity, seeing them as natural to the human experience and vital to creativity.

Living in Sfumato

  • Challenge the desire for every answer and embrace open questions.
  • Allow time for ‘incubation’—the process of leaving a problem unresolved in the subconscious mind.
  • Encourage flexibility and adaptability in planning and creative thinking.

Arte/Scienza: Balancing Art and Science

Da Vinci saw no inherent contradiction between the two; instead, he believed they should be interconnected and inform one another.

Integrating Arte/Scienza

  • Pursue interdisciplinary knowledge and interests.
  • Approach scientific problems with a creative mindset.
  • Use art and storytelling to communicate scientific principles.

Corporalità: The Well-Rounded Body and Mind

According to da Vinci, physical and mental fitness are intimately connected. A healthy body supports a healthy mind in its creativity and productivity.

Maintaining Corporalità

  • Diversify physical activities and exercise regularly.
  • Engage in activities that foster both physical and cognitive skills, such as dancing or rock climbing.
  • Practice stress reduction techniques, such as meditation or yoga, to maintain mental health and life balance.

Connessione: Recognizing Interconnectedness

Leonardo saw the world as a web of connections. His principle of Connessione guides us to view everything as part of a unified whole.

Fostering Connessione

  • Explore systems thinking and see how parts relate to the whole.
  • Practice empathy and perspective-taking to understand different viewpoints.
  • Use mind mapping and other visual tools to map out connections and relationships.

These principles offer a roadmap to expand your perception and encourage a more rounded, informed, and innovative view of the world.

Practical Tactics for Modern Innovation

Employ these actionable techniques to incorporate da Vinci’s principles into your everyday life, fostering a mindset of creativity and ingenuity.

Practical Exercises and Methods for Applying the Principles

  • Mind Mapping: Connect disparate ideas and themes, fostering connectivity in your thinking.
  • Regular Practice: Schedule regular sessions dedicated to fostering one of the seven principles.
  • Challenges and Benefits of

Challenges and Benefits of Thinking Like a Genius

Adopting a new way of strategic thinking isn’t without its challenges. It will require time, effort, and a willingness to break out of comfort zones. But the potential for growth and innovation is immense.

Overcoming the Hurdles

Recognizing and preparing for the common obstacles can help you stay on track in your da Vinci-inspired thinking.

Tips for Overcoming Common Challenges

  • Keep a Curiosity Journal
  • Surround Yourself with Diversity
  • Consistent Daily Exercises for personal and organizational development

The Transformative Power of Genius Thinking

The rewards of thinking like a genius go beyond individual success—they extend to the problems solved, the art created, and the lives enriched through innovation and creativity.

How Thinking Like a Genius Can Transform Your Life

  • Enhancing problem-solving skills.
  • Fostering a deeper connection to the world around you.
  • Stimulating personal growth and fulfillment.


Leonardo da Vinci’s principles offer a pathway to enhancing creativity, innovation, and personal fulfillment. By adopting the mindset of a genius, we can all strive to approach problems and the world with new insights and ideas. The challenge is substantial, but the rewards are truly groundbreaking. It’s time to unlock your inner da Vinci and start creating a legacy of your own.

To further your exploration of da Vinci’s principles, engage with these concepts in your daily life, reflect on their impact, and share your practical experience with others. In doing so, you’ll not only deepen your own understanding but contribute to a world that needs more uniquely innovative thinkers.

By bringing ancient wisdom into the modern world, we can all become a little more ‘leonardo,’ enriching our lives and the lives of those around us with the curiosity and creativity that are the hallmarks of the greatest genius.

For more information, please contact Arlen Olsen at Schmeiser, Olsen & Watts LLP at