Lesson 8


Discover Life’s Web of Connections

When you know that all is one, the universe reveals itself as deeply personal. In this final lesson, you’ll create a Master Mind Map of your life to take you wherever you want to go.

Your Visual Journal

Now that you’re a proficient mind mapper, you’ll want to keep your Mind Mapping tools handy. Buy a visual diary (wirebound, with blank pages of thick drawing paper) and a packet of color felt-tip pens.

When you get into the habit of Mind Mapping, you’ll find that your visual diary becomes your constant companion and most valued possession.

Discovering Wholeness, Within and Without

This is your final lesson, but it’s the beginning of integrating the da Vincian principles into your life so that you can truly think like Leonardo every day.

In this lesson, you start by exploring wholeness and then move on to develop your “origin-all” thinking. Using all your da Vincian tools and skills, you create a work of art: a mind map of your life.

Finally, you’ll give some thought to what happens when the course is over. How will you use your new tools?

Let’s start by creating a Wholeness mind map.

Wholeness Mind Map

First, do the Contemplate Wholeness exercise on page 230 of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. As you contemplate the various aspects of “you” that make up who you are, you’ll find that you’re a whole collection of “you.” How many sub-personalities and shadow aspects do you contain? Who’s the real you?

Do a mind map of the collection of selves that is you.

If you need a refresher on Mind Mapping, go back to pages 169-191 in the course text.

Don’t Forget:

  • To create the central image first: do a mini sketch of yourself, or whatever image you feel is appropriate. The time you spend on the central image enlivens your right brain.
  • To use colors: monochrome mind maps are dispiriting and hard to remember.
  • To enter your keywords: use only single words.
  • To radiate your lines from the central image. As an alternative to entering your keywords first, you can draw the radiating lines first. (Follow your intuition as to whether you write the keywords first, or draw the lines.)

Once you’ve completed the mind map, go and do something else for a while.

When you come back to the Wholeness map (whether it’s five minutes or a day or two later), think about Leonardo’s observation on page 230 of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: “Every part is disposed to unite with the whole, that it may thereby escape from its own incompleteness.”

Look at your mind map. What paradoxes do you contain? Are you both shy and outgoing? Depressed and exuberant?

Since you are all these selves, think about areas of your life that are currently a challenge. For example, you may be having dramas with your boss who overloads you with work and then berates you for not turning in sales reports on time.

Which “you” interacts with your boss? Is there another, more assertive you who could handle the relationship better? You might like to let one of these aspects take over the interaction next time your boss dumps a task onto you.

“Dragons” Mind Maps

Michael Gelb’s Make Dragons exercise on page 233 of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci is not only a lot of fun, but also an invaluable tool to tuck into your creativity toolbox. Do several of the connections suggested in the exercise: the oak leaf and the human hand, the laugh and the knot, a giraffe and coleslaw — whichever appeal to you. But create a mind map for each item first.

Did you notice how easy it is to make the connections when you have a mind map in front of you?

After several weeks of practice, you should be more comfortable with mind mapping now. Are you using mind mapping at work? Please share your insights about mind mapping with the other students on the Message Board.

Irrepressible, Unmistakable, Essential You

Mystics and scientists agree that nothing is ever created or destroyed and that everything that ever was or will be is here now. So, everything is connected, and you’re an indispensable part of the whole. These profound truths aren’t understood so much as realized, and you realize them though contemplation.

Read and do the Microcosm/Macrocosm Contemplation on page 238 of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. If you enjoy this meditation, make it a regular part of your meditation practice.

Look Up “Original,” and Do Something Original Every Day

The word has many meanings. Look it up in the dictionaries you have at home, in the library, or online. Make a list of all the meanings of “original” you can find. Try to do something original in any of its meanings, today and every day.

What’s the Connection? “Origin-All” Thinking

“Original” is an interesting word. The various meanings of “original” include: relating to the beginning of something, new and fresh, and given to acting or thinking independently. Are you an original thinker? As we draw to the end of this course, you should be much more confident of your own innate originality, and of your ability to develop original creations on command.

“Origin-All” Mind Maps as Problem Solvers

Read and do the exercise on pages 236-237 of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Do a mind map for at least two objects. You should be a proficient mind mapper by now. This exercise is useful because it gets you thinking not only about connections, but also about the source of things. In a sense, it gets you thinking like a detective.

You can use your skill with Connessione mind maps to solve problems. For example, let’s say that you’re having a problem with a client. Do a Connessione mind map to trace the problem back to its origins. In the origins of anything, you’ll usually find a clue to the solution.

Creative Connections Listing Exercise

Need an original idea, or need to solve a problem? Make a list of all the connections. You can do this with a straight list or with a mind map. Here’s how it works: Let’s say that you work for a stationery company. You need an idea for a new line of elegant notepaper, the sort of notepaper that people buy to send handwritten notes.

You start by making a list of descriptions of paper. Don’t think too hard about this; it’s a free-write. You write: “blank, acid-free, coated, colorful, multicolored, flexible,” etc.

Select an item from your first list and make a list of aspects of that. You select: “colorful.” Make another list: “COLORFUL: pastel, purple, black, blue, gray, red, white and blue,” etc.

Again, select an item from the list, and make further associations. “BLUE: blues music, blues depression”

And it hits you — an idea. You could create a line of notepaper with inspirational quotes. You love it, and you can’t wait to get started working on it. Your lists of connections took no longer than around 10 minutes, and without breaking a sweat, you have a hot new idea you’re enthusiastic about.

Create Your Own Notepaper Idea

Create connections and develop an idea for a unique notepaper. Share it with the other students on the Message Board.

Knowing how to mine connections for original ideas is an invaluable tool.

Create Your Impreza

Your Impreza is your own personal logo. Spend some time on this. For ideas, visit the library and take out a book on medieval heraldry. You’ll find all kinds of ideas for magical creatures you could include in your Impreza. Got a unique impreza? Describe it on the Message Board.

Using a Master Mind Map to Create a Master Plan

The “Make a Master Mind Map of Your Life” exercise on pages 244 to 255 of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci helps you to plan your life. This mind map is your “take-home project” from this course. It will be your own work of art, and it will take some time to complete. Read the exercise through several times to acquaint yourself fully with it.

Michael Gelb suggests that you devote a minimum of an hour a day over seven days to completing the mind map. (You can space the hours out over three weeks if you wish.) It’s a large mind map, so you need many large sheets of blank paper, and lots of space to lay out the map as you work on it.

The task of creating a huge mind map can be intimidating. Don’t attempt to work on the final version at your first try. Create Sprezzatura drafts by brainstorming ideas.

The Starting Place

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” — Goethe

Course Review: Integrating the Lessons Into Your Life

Congratulations! You’ve completed the course. However, your work doesn’t stop here. Your next challenge is to integrate the lessons into your life. That will take time and several reviews of the books and the lessons. Be patient with yourself and enjoy the process.

Here are some suggestions on how to go about this:

  • Work through the complete series of lessons again
  • Create a mind map of each lesson
  • Carry index cards with small mind maps of those da Vincian principles you particularly want to remember with you
  • Collect prints of Leonardo’s paintings and display them in your office — let them act as visual reminders
  • Take an advanced drawing course
  • Do more reading about Leonardo and the Renaissance

There’s no quiz for this final lesson, but there is one last assignment. Be sure to stop by the Message Board one last time to share your creative goals and reflect on your journey thus far with your fellow students.

Buona fortuna!

Assignment: Connessione: Mind Map the Seven da Vincian Principles
Human nature being what it is, as the weeks and months pass, you’ll forget the da Vincian principles. Refer to all the lessons and create a mind map of the Seven Da Vincian Principles that you can use as a reference to remind you and guide you.

And don’t ever hesitate to come back to the book and the workbook when you become conscious of slipping back into your old, un-da Vincian routine.


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