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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by [Gelb, Michael J.]
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4.2 out of 5 stars 230 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Here's a personal growth guidebook that's won the admiration and recommendation of Ted Hughes, Poet Laureate of England. He calls this "a brilliant, practical guide to awakening and training our vast, unused resources of intelligence and ability." Author Michael Gelb, founder of High Performance Learning and consultant for companies including AT&T and National Public Radio, says that we all can unlock the "da Vincian" genius inside us. Gelb says there are seven critical principles that need to be followed for success, whether you're learning a new language, studying to be a gourmet chef, or just hoping to be more effective on the job:

  • Curiosita: An insatiably curious approach to life.
  • Dimonstratzione: A commitment to test knowledge through experience.
  • Sensazione: The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to clarify experience.
  • Sfumato: A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  • Arte/Scienza: The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination ("whole-brain thinking").
  • Corporalita: The cultivation of ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
  • Connessione: A recognition and appreciation for the connectedness of all things and phenomena; "systems thinking."

Gelb discusses each of these principles in relation to what da Vinci accomplished, thereby giving this book a built-in history lesson. The illustrations from the master's work and time add a nice warmth to the work. As the president of NPR said after working with Gelb, this is a program recommended for "anyone who wants to experience a personal and professional Renaissance."

From Publishers Weekly

Founder and president of the High Performance Learning Center, Gelb, in seminars and workshops and now in this book, offers "the Seven Da Vincian Principles" for learning how to approach life like a genius. He uses Leonardo's native Italian language to label these principles: "curiosita" (curiosity and continuous learning), "dimostrazione" (learning from experience), "sensazione" (sensory awareness), "sfumato" (accepting and embracing uncertainty), "arte/scienza" (balancing art and science, or "whole-brain" thinking), "corporalita" (physical fitness and ambidexterity) and "connessione" (seeing the interconnectedness of everything). Gelb provides discussion of each principle in relation to Leonardo's work, questions for reader "self-assessment," exercises and even notes for parents to apply the principles to child-rearing and teaching. His view reflects the current trend in working with "multiple intelligences" and creativity, and is similar to the approach outlined in Todd Siler's Think Like a Genius (1997). The Renaissance mood Gelb successfully invokes, however, adds a unique richness to this deeper, more expansive work. Illustrations. Editor, Tom Spain; agent, Muriel Nellis.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 13429 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reissue edition (October 21, 2009)
  • Publication Date: October 21, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SEFNF0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,011 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is very hard for me to grade. It contains some of the best and worst material I have ever seen, all in the same book. That combination is unprecedented in my experience.
If the book were solely built around the exercises, I would say that it deserved more than five stars.
If the book were soley built around the analysis and history of Leonardo da Vinci as a thinker, I would grade it at two stars.
The exercises are so terrific that I urge you to read the book. I also urge you to see the text leading up to the exercises as merely an introduction to the excercises.
If you want to learn about Leonardo da Vinci as a thinker, I suggest you go elsewhere for that guidance. I do encourage you read the Leonardo notebooks directly. They are fascinating. While you are doing so, try to imagine yourself with the limited scientific knowledge of the day. One of the things that you will learn is the power of conceptualizing what is needed that is missing. This helps to set the goal that energizes those who then meet the goal. Leonardo had enormous influence in this way with his pioneering work on helicopters, submarines, parachutes, and many mechanical devices.
Research on creativity and innovation has shown that it is valuable to increase one's curiosity, testing of ideas, observation skills, openness to new ideas and ambiguity, whole-brained thinking, balance in life activities, and seeing systems connections. This book espouses those concepts as well. In fact, it felt to me like the author was more influenced by the creativity and innovation literature than by Leonardo. If the book had drawn on more of this kind of research, rather than just trying to oversimpify Leonardo da Vinci, it would have been a better book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not for everyone. Here's how it helped me and here's a test to know if the book's for you:

If you really want to see the "world" (cliche' but I do mean the entire world: your dog, your business, your lover's response, the smell of air) in a new way and if you really try to do so, then you know how difficult a task it can be to catch a new glimpse or a new idea. Though it's not too difficult to find what other's have already pointed out, it's the place of prophets and poets and the great entrepreneurs to see something new. As a research chemist 20 years ago, and now as a physician involved in research, I use a very powerful tool that helps improve vision; the tool (the notebook)and good techniques for using it are described in this book.

I see peole buy notebooks and diaries for school and personal use but I don't know many people who catch the real power of this tool. You could read this whole book (How to Think Like...) and not catch the power of the tool without giving the notebook technique a try. You could try the technique and not catch the power unless you keep trying and keep revising techniques and keep trying to see and to hear and to block out the voice of your teachers who told you what to see and what to hear.

Einsten kept a notebook with him even when he went sailing. Another famous mathematician kept notes and had theories even about why the good guy is quicker in a western gun fight. King David must have kept an extensive notebook (we read some of his notes in the Psalms). Seems most people have the idea that personal notebooks are for 13 year old girls to decipher puberty.
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By A Customer on September 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Michael Gelb has written an insightful and challanging book. Not being a da Vinci scholar, but one always impressed by da Vinci's ideas and especially his drawings and paintings, this book increased my knowledge of this genius and challanged me to think that I could benefit greatly by thinking like Leonardo.
Gelb sets out seven Da Vincinian Principles and illustrates each with examples from da Vinci's life and work. He encourages the reader to assess oneself with regard to each of the principles and then presents an abundance of exercises to develop one's awareness of the principle and skill at using it.
I found myself, over the course of reading the book, using the principles as I observed the world around me throughout the day, listening to the sounds of nature, really watching birds in flight, wondering at the beautiful pumpkin from a friend's garden that I was peeling, seeding and chopping to make into soup. The latter exercise was further enhanced by pouring myself a glass of the chardonnay that went into the soup and truly tasting it and savouring it (my own version of an exercise found in the Sensazione chapter.) The last of the principles presented is Connessione. I understood this principle clearly as I reflected on the earth from which the grapes were grown, the grapes and all that nourished their growth, the many hands and minds and hearts that created the wine, packaged it, shipped and distributed it and the many consumers who were enjoying it.
Yes, I can say wholeheartedly that this book is worth buying, reading and keeping around as a guide filled with practical ideas and exercises (including a beginner's drawing course) for stimulating and encouraging one's self understanding and indiviual genius.
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