Curiosità. Curiosità is an “insatiably curious approach to life and unrelenting quest for continuous learning”. Great minds have one characteristic in common: they continuously ask questions throughout their lives. Leonardo’s endless quest for truth and beauty clearly demonstrates this. What makes great minds different is the quality of their questions. You can increase your ability to solve problems by increasing your ability to ask good questions. Like da Vinci, you should cultivate an open mind that allows you to broaden your universe and increase your ability to explore it. Here are some ways to apply Curiosità:
- Keep a journal. Bring a journal wherever you go and use it often. Write your ideas and thoughts there. Try to write several statements a day that start with “I wonder why/how…”
- Observe according to a theme. Choose a theme and observe things according to the theme for a day. For example, let’s say you choose “communication”. For the entire day, observe every type and instance of communication you come across. You can then record your observations in your journal.
- Stream of consciousness exercise. Pick a question and write the thoughts and associations that occur to you as they are. Don’t edit them. The important thing is to keep writing. This is also referred to as freewriting.
Dimostrazione. Dimostrazione is “a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistake”. Wisdom comes from experience and the principle of Dimostrazione helps you get the most out of your experience. Here are some ways to apply Dimostrazione:
- Check your beliefs. Do you hold any beliefs that you haven’t verified through experience?
- Three points of view. First, make a strong argument against your belief. Next, take a distant view of your belief (for example, as if you live in a different culture) and review it. Finally, find friends who can give you different perspectives.
- Analyze the advertisements that affect you. Look at the advertisements in your favorite magazine and analyze the strategy and tactics they use. Find the advertisements that affect you most and find out why.
- Find “anti-role models” to learn from. List the names of some people whose mistakes you want to avoid. Learn from them so that you won’t encounter the same pitfalls.
Sensazione. Sensazione is “the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience”. According to da Vinci, we can best practice Dimostrazione through our senses, particularly sight. That’s why one of Leonardo’s mottoes is saper vedere (knowing how to see) upon which he built his work in arts and science. Here are some ways to apply Sensazione:
- Write detailed description of an experience. For instance, describe your experience of watching a sunrise in your journal.
- Learn how to describe a smell.
- Learn to draw.
- Listen to different sounds around you. Learn to listen to different intensity of sounds from the softest (e.g. your breathing) to the loudest (e.g. traffic).
- Live in the moment. Practice mindfulness.
Cryptic. Cryptic is “a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty”. An essential characteristic of da Vinci’s genius is his ability to handle a sense of mystery. Here are two ways to apply Cryptic:
- Befriend ambiguity. Not knowing something does not make it ambiguous! It is when you DO know something but its meaning is indeterminate.
- Ask yourself questions that relate two opposites. For example, ask yourself how your happiest and saddest moments are related.
- Practice the Socratic method. The goal with the Socratic method is to examine possibilities, and that is done by asking questions, not by giving answers. Socrates was known (and criticized) for asking questions to which he didn’t have answers. The key to using the Socratic method is to be humble. Don’t assume that you or anyone knows anything for sure. Question every premise.
Arte/scienza. Arte/scienza is “the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination”. This is thinking with the “whole brain”. Mind mapping is a powerful method that can help you combine logic and imagination in your work and life. The end result of mapping should be a web-like structure of words and ideas that are somehow related in the writer’s mind.
Corporalità. Corporalità is “the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise”. Leonardo had amazing physical ability that complemented his genius in science and arts. Here are some ways to apply Corporalità:
- Develop a program for physical fitness. Your program should include three things: flexibility exercises, strength training, and aerobic conditioning.
- Develop body awareness. Study anatomy. Try yoga. Dance. Do some contact juggling. Whatever strengthens the connection between body and mind, go for it.
- Cultivate ambidexterity. Leonardo could work with both his right and left hand and regularly switched between them. You can cultivate ambidexterity by using your nondominant hand for relatively simple tasks like brushing your teeth or eating your breakfast. Later you can use your nondominant hand for writing.
Connessione. Connessione is “a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena”. This, in other words, is systems thinking. One main source of Leonardo’s creativity is his ability to form new patterns through connections and combinations of different elements. Here are some ways to apply Connessione:
- Find ways to link things that seem unrelated. For example, you can try to find connections between a bear and the World Wide Web, or geology and the Mona Lisa (real name “La Giaconda”).
- Imagine dialogues. Imagine talking with a role model to gain new perspective and insight. Or you can imagine how some role models would discuss your problem.
- Think about how things originate. Take an object and think about what elements are involved in its creation and how.