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Thinking Like Leonardo Da Vinci

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

“We tried to make something much more holistic and simple.” Steve Jobs

One of the reasons for the success of Apple products is their sophisticated simplicity. Every time I go to use a Windows PC, I appreciate more how intuitive and accessible my iMac is – which encourages more creative work and accomplishment.

Commenting about the iPod, Steve Jobs said “Look at the design of a lot of consumer products — they’re really complicated surfaces. We tried to make something much more holistic and simple.

“When you first start off trying to solve a problem, the first solutions you come up with are very complex, and most people stop there. But if you keep going, and live with the problem and peel more layers of the onion off, you can often times arrive at some very elegant and simple solutions. Most people just don’t put in the time or energy to get there.” (Newsweek, 14 October 2006)

Michael Gelb is an expert on creative thinking, accelerated learning, and innovative leadership, an author of 12 books on creativity and innovation, and leads seminars at companies such as Merck, Microsoft, Nike, and Raytheon.

One of his most popular books is “How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.”

Video: “Michael J Gelb – How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci” – An excerpt from his keynote address based on his book:

Here are a few quotes from the book that indicate the breadth of da Vinci’s perspectives on developing creativity:

“As you sharpen your senses, probe the depths of experience, and awaken your childlike powers of questioning, you will encounter increasing uncertainty and ambiguity. ‘Confusion endurance’ is the most distinctive trait of highly creative people, and Leonardo probably possessed more of that trait than anyone who has ever lived.

“For balance and creativity to emerge from uncertainty requires principle number five [see others below] — Arte/Scienza — or what we now call whole-brain thinking. But Da Vinci believed that balance was more than just mental. He exemplified and affirmed the importance of principle number six — Corporalita — the balance of body and mind.”

Those and other principles have undoubtedly been embraced by Steve Jobs and many other creative visionaries.


Gelb says: “When I was a child my heroes were Superman and Leonardo. Eventually I discovered that Superman was only a comic book character but Leonardo was real.  As I learned more about him it became clear that he is as an archetype of human possibility…”

– From description of his online Livestream 60-minute class Tues Nov 26 2013 [Recordings available after]: How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.

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How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci with Michael GelbThe description for his longer 5-week online course, based on his book, notes: “Anatomist, architect, botanist, city planner, chef, engineer, equestrian, inventor, geographer, geologist, musician, painter, and philosopher, Leonardo da Vinci helped bring the Western world out of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.”

The course promises to apply seven principles “for thinking like Leonardo, through a proven series of practical exercises, to your deepest life questions.”

These da Vinci principles are:

• Curiosità – An insatiable quest for knowledge and continuous improvement
• Dimostrazione – Learning from experience
• Sensazione – Sharpening the senses
• Sfumato – Managing ambiguity and change
• Arte/Scienza – Whole-brain thinking
• Corporalità – Body-mind fitness
• Connessione – Systems thinking

For more information, visit the site for the course:
How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci

Book: How to Think like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day, by Michael J. Gelb.

Self-portrait from article New Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci Found! By Maike Vogt-Lüerssen

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Thinking Like Leonardo Da Vinci

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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Some excerpts from The Creative Mind are included in his newsletter .
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2019). Thinking Like Leonardo Da Vinci. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Mar 2019
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