3 Top Habits Leonardo da Vinci Can Teach us About the Future of Work
Born in 1452, the Italian inventor was way ahead of his time. Fueled by endless curiosity, he was constantly in a creative state, experimenting and envisioning innovation, sometimes centuries before others.
So, what can we learn from this one-of-a-kind person about handling our way into the future? Here are 3 top habits to help us prepare:
Leonardo had an inexhaustible, childish curiosity. Highly observant, he was a man who never stopped exploring the world. He always documented, asked questions,
and looked for inter-dependencies between interlinked forces shaping the world. Avid self-learner, he was always looking for something new, something to learn. The topics he was interested in were endless: from anatomy to why the sky is blue.
Leonardo was always trying things out and asking questions about the nature of the world and our existence. He was constantly experimenting, whether these were thought experiments, drawn or in the real world. He didn't allow failure to stop him. Instead, conceived it as a temporary obstacle to success and an occasion to learn from it. Linking the experiment to the theory is a crucial feature of his work.
Leonardo skillfully intertwined his endless curiosity with scientific discoveries and his fantasies. He destroyed the boundaries between the different domains. The real and the imaginary often merged, combining dreams and observations. Leonardo was an artist who used reality in his work but didn't allow it to limit him. He strived to acquire new knowledge and believed there was always something new to learn.
In his biography of Leonardo, Walter Isaacson describes an essential provision to understanding Leonardo's genius: true creativity requires the ability to combine observations with imagination, thus blurring the line between reality and fantasy. What is characteristic of Leonardo is the combinatorial nature of his creativity. He managed to unite his remarkable observation with the endless flow of his imagination.
The mixing of science and art is the factor that allows Leonardo's genius to flourish. Just as he could recreate the real and the visible to the last detail, he could do the same for something entirely out of his imagination.
The mixture of creativity and curiosity leads to innovation.
The key to Leonardo's innovative nature lies in his connections between various disciplines. Analogies are at the heart of his working process. For him, there are no boundaries between different fields, and he boldly entered both science and art.
His ability to merge disciplines is key to innovation. The "Vitruvian man," e.g., is a brilliant combination of art, mathematics, anatomy, architecture, and last but not least - the analogy between the microcosm of the mortal and the macrocosm of the Universe.
Another prerequisite for his innovative ideas is that Leonardo lived in art centers and idea incubators: Florence, Milan, and Rome, which allowed him to collaborate with his contemporaries regularly. Creativity and innovation are fueled by the intersection of different minds, opinions, and areas of expertise. Ideas often arise in places where people intersect with each other and where they can communicate freely.
Blending ideas from different disciplines is the seed from which innovation and progress emerge.