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Leonardo Da Vinci’s 7 Principles


Leonardo Da Vinci was very well known for his fabulous artistic ability as a painter, but his brilliance goes much further beyond that. He was not only a painter, but an architect, scientist, inventor, sculptor, musician, writer, historian and engineer. He was not just a genius but a polymath.

I recently wrote about the importance of having principles in a previous article that was based on Ray Dalio’s recent best-selling book Principles. In that book, Ray delves deeply into what a principle is, the importance of having principles, and what his most important management and life principles were that led to his enormous success.

A principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system or belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.

Life is confusing and there is a lot of ambiguity as well as uncertainty. If this wasn’t hard enough, there are plenty of things that influence our thinking. Some conscious and some unconscious. This can include our environments, family, friends, media and plenty of others factors that we encounter on a daily basis. And these have an influence on our emotions which play a huge part in our decision making. When we are not in the right frame of mind it can be difficult to make decisions.

This is where the importance of having principles comes in. If you already have an established set of principles then it is easier to make a decision since you can ask yourself if that decision you’re about to make is consistent with your principles. This doesn’t necessarily help you make the perfect decision but it certainly gives you a guideline to steer you in the right direction which can definitely help when dealing with uncertainty, pressure, or stress.

When you are trying to learn something new it helps to watch how the best performers in that particular field have succeeded. Leonardo is one of the best thinkers there is, and Michael Gelb wrote the book How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci which contains what Leonardo Da Vinci’s 7 principles were based on Michael’s intense study of Leonardo’s notebooks, writings, and art.

Here are the 7 principle that Michael Gelb put together based on how Leonardo lived his life:

1) A profound curious approach to life and to always continue to learn, no matter how old

2) A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes

3) A continual refinement of the senses, especially sight to enliven experience

4) A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty

5) The development of the balance between science and art, whole brain thinking

6) The cultivation of grace, fitness and poise

7) A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things. Systems thinking, holistic medicine, etc.

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