By Dr. Jo Anne White
The other day, I was speaking to a colleague, lamenting that we had to be professionally pigeonholed into categories. Just choose one specialty, even when we have expertise in several others. It’s a sensible marketing strategy, but it feels so one-dimensional and we are multidimensional after all. The truth is that the average person will have as many as five or six different occupations and as many as 10+ jobs by the time he or she retires. We are to select, focus and also diversify to keep up with the emerging global and economic changes, especially in the fields of technology.
I’ve always admired Leonardo Da Vinci for his diverse talents and skill in many different areas in addition to the one he was most famous for-his painting. He was an adept and talented sculptor, musician, architect, mathematician, artist, inventor, engineer, writer, botanist, geologist and the list goes on.
Yes, he was special; yet we have the capacity of flexing our brains like muscles and expanding our talents and versatility like him. Our brains are capable of so much more than we imagine; we have unlimited potential. The key is to unlock it and make use of it! And we can. Leonardo gave us wonderful clues throughout his work, his writing and beliefs to stretch ourselves beyond what we think possible.
Da Vinci speaks of learning how to see and the importance of engaging our senses more fully, truly paying attention in new ways. He encourages us not to take anything for face value; instead, engage in inquiry and research. Test knowledge experientially to uncover truth, and just as importantly live true ourselves and to our life purpose. Rather than give up, be persistent, get comfortable with ambiguity, and be open to learn from mistakes we’ve made. So often, the answers come after much trial and error, not by walking away from a challenge, but by finding novel solutions through perseverance.
Leonardo used many different techniques to stimulate his own creativity, such as looking into various shapes and finding different patterns and associations. To innovate, whether in life or business, we have to look outside of ourselves, outside of the familiar and outside our industry to make new connection and associations. This is out-of- the-box thinking that can help us view challenges and experiences differently and produce unique results.
Da Vinci also spoke a lot about self-mastery which I believe is critical to making inroads in our growth. Not only do we have to show up for ourselves and others, but we need to gain control over our impulses and ourselves for success. Imagine an athlete or musician not being mentally or physically prepared for a concert or a competition; the outcome is likely to be unfavorable. The same principle applies to us. To learn something new and be successful, commitment, action and application are required. When passion is introduced, it’s more potent.
He urged us to take time out from work in leisure, refresh ourselves and clear our minds which can stimulate new ideas and sprout new perspectives. So often the answers we are looking for appear almost magically when we’re in a relaxed mode. Da Vinci was a strong champion of lifelong learning. Find ways to continuously expand your own knowledge and awareness in many areas including yourself, love and the natural environment. His beliefs about valuing and respecting all of nature and the environment still apply today with the focus on sustainability. An astute observer of nature, man and all things, he believed in the strong interconnectedness of everything.
You can ignite your own creativity by making connections between dissimilar things. At first you won’t know how they can connect, but that’s what gets your brain actively blending up new combinations to amaze you. We each have multiple intelligences that call to be awakened in us. Like Da Vinci, awaken them.
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