Thinking like Leonardo

By: Barbara McRae, MCC, 20 Something ADHD Expert, Campus Calm™

Like most of us with AD/HD, Leonardo da Vinci – the greatest creative genius ever – had trouble staying focused. Known to have carried a journal wherever he went, Leonardo learned to capture his fountain of ideas on paper before they disappeared. It’s no wonder that he, with his insatiable curiosity and willingness to embrace both the Arts & Sciences, became a gifted architect, artist, and prolific inventor.

It was also well known that Leonardo struggled to keep up with his racing mind and varied interests. He left many paintings and projects unfinished and yet he accomplished vastly more than most. By the way, he’s most famous for painting the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. But at the end of his highly productive life, he chided himself about his many incomplete projects! (Sound familiar? We do tend to be hard on ourselves!)

In today’s world it’s become popular to learn how to think like Leonardo. So, how can those with ADD-ish traits benefit from “genius thinking”?

1. Expand your inquisitiveness

  • Cultivate curiosity to open your mind
  • Select ideas/themes based on your level of passion for them
  • Challenge your beliefs about what is possible for you
  • Ask others about your blind spots (don’t explain, just listen)

2. Cultivate your intuition

  • Pay attention to the senses (how does it feel?)
  • Listen to your body’s messages (your brain isn’t just in your head)
  • Create daily space for your intuition to enter
  • Capture, track, and review your insights

3. Use a “whole brain approach”

  • Understand the strengths and functions of both sides of the brain
  • Learn Mind-Mapping to enhance note-taking and to aid memory
  • Increase your awareness through mindfulness (focused attention)
  • Engage in movement meditation to reduce stress, improve clarity

The brain is a highly complex system, divided into two regions. The right hemisphere focuses on the “picture” while the left on the “thousand words.” We need both. Mind Mapping uses a whole-brain approach that is especially popular with ADDers.

While Tony Buzan is credited with coining the term Mind Mapping, it’s clear from da Vinci’s journals that he conceived the process of creative whole-brain diagramming, using keywords and images to depict mental associations, over 500 years ago!

Another important tool is meditation. I know from personal experience that meditation can help you to better understand the inner workings of your mind and emotions. In Mindfulness Meditation, distracting thoughts and their corresponding emotions aren’t ignored; they are acknowledged and observed by detaching from them. Thus, you gain awareness by shedding light on what previously seemed invisible to you.

Leonardo made it a point to alternate between focused work and relaxation. He credited this practice for cultivating an ability to focus on both his inner and outer world. This allowed him to be present in each moment. In doing so, you’ll be creating space for your inner creative genius to emerge.

My best,
Barbara
20-Somethings ADHD Expert
www.ADHDedgecoaching.com
© Barbara McRae, Master Certified Coach

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