We all know the great Leonardo da Vinci. He's best known for his paintings, The Mona Lisa and The Vitruvian Man, but he was involved in much more than that.
Da Vinci's areas of interest and expertise included: invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography.
He was known as a polymath. This means that his expertise ranged throughout a variety of areas and he could draw on complex bodies of knowledge within those areas. Da Vinci shows us that It’s not about learning everything, but more about becoming well versed in areas that interest you.
For example, if you’re a managing director, other areas of interest could include: communication, psychology, productivity, philosophy, sales and marketing, technology and innovations.
Learning makes us healthier
Big Think has found that “people as old as 90 who actively acquire new interests that involve learning, retain their ability to learn. But if we stop taxing the nucleus basalis (responsible for synaptic connections in the brain), it begins to dry up.”
So, when we stop learning and become content with what we know, we actually do a disservice to our brain because learning actually makes our brain healthier.
Today, we have access to a lot of information, but we generally don’t know how to go deep on a subject and turn information into knowledge and wisdom. When it comes to learning new things in our spare time, people tend to opt for instant gratification rather than spending quality time with challenging concepts. This means that they never really get to experience the rush of things ‘clicking’ and suddenly making sense, aka the ‘lightbulb moment’.
Learning makes us happier
Learning actually makes you happier. Researchers found that one of the things that people need to be happy is to be engaged in difficult-but-doable activities. To do this, we need to become so absorbed in their tasks that time seems to stand still.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to be an expert in multiple fields, what I am saying is that you should slowly start to expand your horizons by learning something outside of your field, something that you find interesting and relevant. All your new and different skills may seem detached from one another, but they will overlap and come together to allow you to take on tasks with a ‘universal mind’. This is also known as ‘talent stacking’ — the ability to take different skills and combining them to do new things.
Leonardo da Vinci’s 4 strategies to be an effective learner
1. Look after your body
Your body is the carrier of your brain. So, if you want to have a good brain, you can start by looking after your body. Another benefit of taking care of your body is that you’ll have more energy. You can invest this energy into your work and get results you never thought were possible. You’ll get more mental clarity and endurance as you tackle the biggest problems in your day, in stride.
2. Explore your passions and obsessions
Discover deeply what you truly love to do. One of the greatest joys in life is to lose yourself in your passions and obsessions. And, it’s in this space that you’ll start doing your best and most rewarding work.
3. Educate yourself
This is a must. Nowadays, we barely read outside of a computer screen, we barely have the attention to sit down and focus on a challenging piece of literature. Engaging in education, challenging ideas and concepts are the only ways to feed your mind. We have education at the tips of our fingers, but, we don’t really know how to engage with it effectively. Education is not entertainment, it’s not fun and it’s definitely not easy. That’s why so many of us opt out of an online course when things start to ramp up and get challenging — because we’re conditioned to believe that learning has to be fun otherwise it not worthwhile.
“I have lived a thousand lives and I’ve loved a thousand loves. I’ve walked on distant worlds and seen the end of time. Because I read.” — George R.R. Martin
4. Embrace uncertainty
This is a tricky one. Sometimes things just don’t go the way we plan and life can be brutally unfair. When you embrace uncertainty, you purge all your worries around achieving success and give yourself more space to work on your goals at hand. Because, at the end of the day, if we won’t achieve anything if we are crippled by worry and fear.
“If you don’t move, you don’t move” — Anonymous
Learning makes us wealthier
Your wealth is not just a measure of how much money you have, it’s a measurement of all the positive things that you’ve accumulated in your life. So, your good reputation can be a big part of your wealth.
A recent study shows that children who read more outside the school curriculum received higher salaries later in life. The study — pulling from 5,280 men from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden all of whom were born between the years 1920 and 1956 — indicates that those who read at least 10 non-fiction books outside of the classroom curriculum, ended up with 21% more income.
Jim Rohn predicted this trend when he said “if you want to increase your income, increase your vocabulary.”
Why did he say that? Because people with a higher and more diverse vocabulary are seen as more competent and knowledgeable. And, this gives your boss or manager confidence in your ability to get the complex tasks done — which means that you’re more likely to get pushed up the corporate ladder and make more money as a result. It’s one of those things that create a positive ripple effect in your career.