How to Be Like da Vinci

Can you be like Leonardo da Vinci?

What is innovation? And, how can you innovate like Leonardo da Vinci? Below you’ll find one practice used by Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Walt Disney, Maya Angelou, and so many more successful leaders – and you can use it too. This one practice will help you “imagineer” your professional and personal life, just like Leonardo da Vinci.

What is Innovation?

To innovate is to come up with something new – a new process, product, idea, method, etc. The Latin root for the word, innovatus, even means “to introduce as new.”


The da Vinci Way

Have you ever had a great idea, and then forgotten it? We all have, and it’s so frustrating because you know it was a great idea! Beyond retention, the simple act of putting pen to paper also allows thoughts to flow. When the pen writes, the mind unlocks and ideas blossom, grow, and expand well beyond the seed of the initial thought.

Consider the example of Leonardo da Vinci – he always had a “thoughts book” with him, a journal of ideas you could call it. Below are some of the inspiring ideas he wrote down in his “thoughts book”:

Leonardo da Vinci Blog

Imagine if Leonardo da Vinci had never kept a thought book! A few things would have happened: 

  • He’d have forgotten many of his ideas
  • Many ideas would have never blossomed and matured beyond the initial thought
  • We would not know and revere da Vinci as we do today

We’ve found that highly successful leaders often write down their thoughts and ideas. As they write, their ideas mature and blossom into something truly great.


John Reed on the Beach

John Reed was a Senior VP at Citibank (he’d later become the CEO at Citibank and the President of the NYSE). While relaxing on vacation, a simple idea came to him – “what if we rolled out street-level cash machines.” He began to jot down some notes, and 30 pages later ideas took shape. He then had a blueprint for a new banking model, one of credit cards and street-level cash machines (the ATM). 


Inspiring Examples

John Reed, Anne Frank, Maya Angelou, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Orville & Wilbur Wright had different professions, lived in different times, with wildly different ways of life, but they all shared one thing in common: they understood how important capturing thoughts on paper (physical or digital) could be.


Imagineer Your Professional and Personal Life

Now, you may not come up with something as innovative as the credit card, radioactive material, principles of relativity, or life changing poems … but who’s to say you can’t … and won’t 🙂 Why not?

So, write down your ideas. Have a place and process for capturing them regularly. It may be as simple as a spiral notebook. You’ll find yourself more successful in life and as a leader.

Believe in yourself! Believe that there is an abundance of wonderful and powerful ideas inside you, ready to blossom and grow, and have pen and paper (or a notes process on your phone) to capture them when they strike!

“Look at the same thing as everyone else and think something different.” Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Discoverer of Vitamin C)

Want to see other articles and posts by Becoming Your Best? Go here.

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