How the Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci - Michael Gelb
How to Think100
This book is a powerful resource for anyone interested in cultivating creativity. It contains an insightful description of Leonardo Da Vinci, his achievements and the key to his abilities, and beyond this has useful introductions to modern tools which will help develop your creative abilities. These include the Alexander Technique to develop mind and body co-ordination, Mind Mapping and an introductory drawing course. All in all quite a package.

The book is built upon a clear fascination with Da Vinci and his work, combined with a firm belief that in each of us we have vast untapped potential.

One illustration of this, which will stick in my mind for a long time, is the reference to the work of Pyotr Anokhin of Moscow University who in 1968 demonstrated that the minimum number of potential thought patterns an average brain can make, is the number one followed by a string of typed zeros stretching for 10.5 million kilometres.

This is a mind staggeringly large number. As an attempt to give this some sort of perspective, consider that the number of atoms in the universe is estimated to be less than one followed by only one hundred zeros and you perhaps glimpse just how large the number really is.

Leonardo Da Vinci is recognised as a true genius, a great inventor, artist and as this book reveals, much more. Using Da Vinci's life as a backcloth, the book outlines seven key facets of his creative approach, which in my opinion wonderfully encapsulate the secret of creativity and change.

An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning

A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.

A willingness to embrace, ambiguity, paradox and uncertainty.

The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. Whole brain thinking.

The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise

A recognition and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

Each is outlined by description and example of how they were part of Da Vinci’s life. Each is then supported by modern examples and a comprehensive suite of techniques that can be used to stimulate creativity. The Mind Mapping tool and a drawing course are the most substantial tools presented, but there are many others which can quickly be adopted to great effect. The book builds towards the creation of a mind map of your life, through which you can create and implement a personal change plan.

The book is a fascinating look into the inspirational life of a true genius and alone makes this a worthwhile read. Begin to explore the toolkit of creativity techniques and there is true potential to enhance your creative powers.

A stunning book, about a man of staggering powers, yet even Da Vinci barely touched on the potential power of his and of course your brain.

Steve Unwin
April 2007