The Genius in You – The Seven Leonardo da Vinci Principles

By Laurie Peterson in Creativity on October 28th, 2006 / 2 Comments

How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every DayMichael J. Gelb ‘73 is earning wide acclaim by helping people live life to the fullest.

In his book, “How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day,” Gelb invites readers to take some lessons about living from Leonardo da Vinci.

The book is based on what Gelb calls the seven da Vincian Principles:

  • Curiosita’ – an insatiable curiosity
  • Dimostrazione – testing knowledge through experience
  • Sensazione – continued refinement of the senses
  • Sfumato – a willingness to embrace ambiguity
  • Arte/Scienza – developing a balance between art and science
  • Corporalita’ – cultivating fitness and poise
  • Connessione – recognizing and appreciating that all phenomena are connected.

Gelb believes that following these principles leads to success, whether it be learning a new language, cooking a gourmet meal, or being more effective on the job.

“Leonardo is truly the global archetype of human potential,” says Gelb. “We may not be able to achieve his level of genius, but by thinking like he did, we can certainly develop our innate abilities.”

Making the Connection
His book, which took four years of total immersion into everything da Vinci, was a lifetime in the making. Gelb studied Leonardo’s notebooks and art and made a pilgrimage through Europe, ending at the chateau of Cloux in Amboise, France, where da Vinci spent his final years, There, he was deeply moved by the spirit of “the maestro,” Gelb realized that from his days as an independent-thinking student at Clark, to his study of the mind/body connection and his thriving career as a consultant for high-level corporate executives, all of his life decisions and experiences seemed inextricably linked to da Vinci’s philosophy.

When his 1994 seminar “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” was a huge success with top executives, Gelb knew that more people could benefit from what he already knew about “the most creative person who ever lived.”

“How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci,” has been a Washington Post bestseller, a New York Times business bestseller, and an Amazon.com No. 1 pick. The book as been published in 18 languages including German, Japanese, and Hebrew, and Gelb is especially proud that the book is selling very well in Italy. Most uplifting, though, have been the comments from his readers.

“When people come up to you and say things like “Your book gave me everything I every wanted to teach my children but didn’t have the words for,” or “Your book profoundly changed my life”–”there is no better feeling than that.”

Balancing Art and Science
A Renaissance man in the truest sense, Gelb is an accomplished juggler, martial arts enthusiast, gourmet cook and entrepreneur. The popularity of his latest book has let to further projects, which Gelb says is no accident. The workbook/journal companion to “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” includes some of his recipes, and his list of the 10 most enriching pieces of classical music was recently released as a CD by Koch Records.

“Consistent application of the da Vincian principles is the key to my successes. This book is a reflection of how I aspire to live my own life,” he says.

While a student of psychology and philosophy at Clark, Gelb knew he would pursue a career that combined his passions and a way of helping others. After graduating, he spent a year at the International Academy of Continuing Education, near London, and three years studying the Alexander Technique, a mind and body coordination method that brings about poise under pressure. The Alexander Technique is also taught at the Julliard School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and is studied by professional athletes, actors, executives and other people from all walks of life.

Gelb spent the next four years leading business seminars throughout the world. In 1982, he returned to the united States and established High Performance Learning Center, the flourishing corporate training company he still runs outside Washington, D.C.

Metaphorically Speaking
Like da Vinci, Gelb uses metaphors to explain complicated principles. While da Vinci often used the human body as a metaphor for other aspects of life, Gelb uses chess, juggling, and martial arts to teach people how to cope in our ever-changing, ever-stressful business world. In addition to “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci,” Gelb has written “Lessons from the Art of Juggling: How to Achieve Your Full Potential in Business, Learning, and Life,” and “Samurai Chess: Mastering Strategy Through the Martial Art of the Mind,” co-authored with chess Grand Master Raymond Keene.

Gelb believes that now, more than ever, people are looking for personal and spiritual awakening in response to information overload, dependence on the clock and constant need to deal with change. Gelb hopes that by sharing the lessons he has learned from da Vinci, he can help others not only cope in this world, but thrive. As Gelb writes in the preface to “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.”

“We live in a world of unprecedented noise, fog, and traffic. But you too are born of the sun, and traveling towards it. This is a guidebook, inspired by one of the history’s greatest souls, for that journey. An invitation to breathe the vivid air, to feel the fire in your heart’s center, and the full flowering of your spirit.”

Available at amazon: How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

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2 Responses to “The Genius in You – The Seven Leonardo da Vinci Principles”

  1. Collaborative Creativity | Discovery2.0 Says:

    [...] An ‘insatiable curiousity’ is also the first of 7 Da Vincian Principles espoused by Michael Gelb and [...]

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    [...] The Genius in You – The Seven Leonardo da Vinci Principles [...]

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