A Renaissance person – also known as a polymath – is someone who is an expert in a wide array of areas and subjects. Examples of exceptional polymaths include Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Condoleezza Rice, Issac Newton and Oprah Winfrey. However, perhaps the most exceptional of them all was Leonardo Da Vinci.
What distinguished Da Vinci’s genius was its universal nature. The world has produced other thinkers who were more profound or logical as well as many who were more practical, but none who were as creative in so many different fields.
Da Vinci was a man of boundless drive and curiosity, and it was these traits that drove him to become among a handful of people from history who tried to know all there was to know about everything.
He was not only a famous painter and sculptor, but he was also a scientist, engineer and architect who created a wide variety of inventions; additionally, he had a deep fascination with human anatomy.
Da Vinci had many qualities that made him the person he was and while it would probably be unrealistic to try to be as accomplished as he was at so many different things, striving to have those traits will help you excel in your chosen field and life.
Here are the Top 10 qualities that made Da Vinci the greatest Renaissance person in history:
Curiosity is likely the most critical quality of a Renaissance person as they would not have as many interests or know so much if they were not curious. Da Vinci himself was a very curious man, never limiting himself to one field of expertise, but branching out to have a greater understanding of the world. Always being curious can allow you to explore aspects of what you are passionate about that you may never have considered and can make you go outside of your comfort zone. The desire to explore the unknown will ensure you are always discovering something new.
Da Vinci always wanted to learn, constantly seeking knowledge and diving deeply into whatever subject he was exploring. The desire to learn is a quality that can make any person in any field successful, as it is strongly connected to the desire to be better than you are now by knowing more than you do now. Seeking knowledge allows you to go more in-depth in your field, can allow you to have a more thorough understanding of that field, and ensures you’re always growing. While that may sound similar to being curious, the former ensures you have a wide base of knowledge while seeking knowledge ensures a great depth of knowledge.
Da Vinci was also a very observant man, seeing things that others of his time would not have seen. Having strong observation skills can also allow you to see things that most people would not give a second thought. An observant person notices the subtext of a conversation or piece of text that most people would take at face value. They see how two different parts can come together to make a greater whole. Being observant allows someone to see and discover new things before anyone else and allows them to adjust their efforts based on new information.
Attention to Detail
Having a strong attention to detail is often a necessity if you hope to stand out from the crowd. Da Vinci was very detail-oriented which was most profoundly evidenced by his art. His level of detail was revolutionary at the time as seen in his works The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa; it was also obvious in his scientific endeavors such as his drawings of human anatomy. Having a strong attention to detail allows someone to add more depth and intricacy to their work, highlighting or adding things that not everyone sees.
Being highly creative is another way to stand out in the modern era. Da Vinci was a highly creative individual for his time as he painted and designed in ways that no-one really had before. By focusing on your creativity and thinking outside the box, you will follow the path set by almost everyone who has been extraordinarily successful by bringing something new or improved to the world.
One of the strongest drives in Da Vinci’s life was the desire for truth. He strove to be as accurate as possible in his scientific work and he refused to be intellectually dishonest to make his research fit the answer he was hoping for. Being an honest person with a strong sense of integrity will get you places and grant you respect that is well-earned and deserved, even if it does not come as quickly as you would like.
Da Vinci as the Renaissance Man is synonymous with being well-rounded and knowledgeable in a wide variety of areas. There is a common phrase that we use today: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” The inference is that people who have a wide knowledge often don’t have any deep knowledge.
However, the original phrase was actually: “Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than master of one.” This is because people who have knowledge in multiple fields can be better because they can integrate that knowledge in different areas. Da Vinci personified this expression as he eventually became an expert in many trades. Being well-rounded and using your supplemental knowledge well can make you even better in your primary field.
Thinking Outside the Box
While this trait is similar to being creative and – to a certain extent – is an aspect of creativity, it especially relates to problem solving. One of the most significant motivators for Da Vinci’s engineering and scientistic ventures was the desire to solve a problem. His ability to think in unconventional ways allowed him to solve problems many people were unaware of. Thinking outside the box can help you find new efficient or effective ways to solve a problem.
Being able to properly work well with others is also a great quality to have. While most people would think Da Vinci as an individual, he often collaborated with other brilliant men of his time. Not only did he collaborate with his patrons when he was making art for them, but he also collaborated with other painters like Giovanni Ambrogio De Precis on The Virgin of the Rocks. Da Vinci was constantly working with others because it was mutually beneficial.
Finally, Leonardo Da Vinci took mountains of notes. He wrote down his scientific process, his inventive ideas, the famous drawings, and a great many things that he learned and taught. Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to collect your thoughts and remember them. And, if you go on to become a famous Renaissance person like Da Vinci, they will help to carry on your legacy (and be worth a fortune!).