Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The Real da Vinci Code
I have been undertaking an online seminar, developed by Sony called "How To Think Like da Vinci".It is one of a range of workshops and seminars offered for free online covering a wide range of topics under the heading SONY 101. Check them out here.
I was fascinated by Leonardo daVinci when I was at high school, mostly for the breadth of his work, rather than his paintings. I never really liked rennaissance art - for all its virtues.
I wasn't aware of Leo's seven principles until now…let me paraphrase from the introduction to the course.
The Seven Principles
An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
…genius is born when that quality of curiosity continues throughout life.
Leonardo da Vinci was insatiably curious. He possessed the openness and energy of a child combined with the focus and discipline of maturity. He was curious about everything. His theme was the quest to find the essence of truth and beauty.
A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
Dimostrazione is a word used by Leonardo to refer to the idea of thinking independently, testing things through one's own experience, and learning from mistakes. Like a baby learning to walk, Leonardo was persistent in his quest for truth and beauty. In his notebooks, he affirms: "I shall continue," "All obstacles shall be overcome by commitment," and "Fix your course to a star."
The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
Leonardo cultivated his sensory awareness like an Olympic athlete trains his body for competition, and he noted that, "The five senses are the ministers of the soul."
A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
If you begin to awaken your childlike curiosity by asking deeper questions, if you commit to independent thinking and start to sharpen your senses, the result will be -- more questions! Sfumato is a term that art critics coined to refer to the hazy, mysterious quality in Leonardo's paintings, a quality he achieved through the gossamer-thin application of hundreds of layers of paint so that the light seems to suffuse magically from behind the canvas. It represents one of the most distinctive characteristics of highly creative people like Leonardo himself: openness to the unknown and poise in the face of uncertainty.
Our world is changing faster than ever before. New developments in technology, geo-politics, business, science, and medicine are accelerating change and multiplying uncertainty. As uncertainty mounts, the ability to remain centered and balanced becomes more important for individual well-being.
The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination; whole-brain thinking.
Leonardo urged his students to "study the science of art and the art of science." His claim to the title of greatest genius of all time rests on his unmatched mastery of both science and art. In modern terms, Leonardo was a representative and advocate of what we call whole-brain thinking. He inspires us to use the linear, logical, analytical capacities of our mind in harmony with the more imaginative, colorful, and playful elements.
This ideal of balance is brought to everyday practice through a simple technique called mind mapping (developed by British brain researcher Tony Buzan, who was inspired by the notes of Leonardo da Vinci).
The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
In addition to his prowess in art and science, Leonardo was also renowned for his physical gifts. History records that he was as renowned for his strength and athleticism as he was for his beauty, grace, and poise. Leonardo gave advice on health and well being that is echoed today in writings on holistic health. He advocated moderate exercise, a diet of fresh, wholesome food (the Maestro was a vegetarian), and a little red wine with dinner. Leonardo understood all those years ago what we now call "the mind-body connection." His most important advice on maintaining health and well-being included these words: "Avoid grievous moods and keep your mind cheerful."
A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena; systems thinking.
As Leonardo searched for truth and beauty, he observed parallels in the flow of water, the movement of wind, the flight of birds, and the refraction of light. He noted that everything connects to everything else. The ability to see connections that others don't is a hallmark of genius and Leonardo offers a supreme example of this creative capacity.
Sign up. It's a very cool idea from a corporate brand. There is a bit of promotion on the site, but it's quite laid back.