“He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.” Leonardo Da Vinci
As you might know, Leonardo Da Vinci was born with many gifts. He has created art work and ideas that have, much likeJoan of Arc in her mission to save France, withstood the passing years and remained rooted deeply in people’s hearts. From his early sketches of flying machines, parachutes, and weaponry, to his masterpieces such as The Last Supper, Mona Lisa, etc., and including other traits we will be hearing about over the next several weeks in this blog series – Leonardo Da Vinci was a master of creativity.
But how does a person become a master of anything?
Well, for starters, since we’re already talking about Da Vinci, you should note he was an artist by trade. His father, back when Da Vinci was a boy, recognized extreme talent in his son’s sketches, and, wanting to establish Leonardo in a career, he took his son to apprentice with Andrea del Verrocchio, a sculptor and painter in Florence.
- Leonardo didn’t go off to become a doctor.
- He didn’t take up carpentry.
- And he didn’t go into banking.
Why? Because his father was clever enough to know that following one’s strengths is the real key to success.
If you want to become a modern-day master, you’ve got to focus on your strengths. Remember what Ms. Foster of Renaud Foster Management Consultants was quoted as saying at the final 2012 WXN Breakfast? “Work at your strengths, and not work so hard at your weaknesses . . . you want to excel in your three or four best strengths and work at those, because you’re likely to be able to reach the 90 to 95th percentile in those. Work at your weaknesses, you’ll be at it for years and you’re lucky if you get the 50 percentile.”
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!
(Oh my goodness, that line just gave me a flashback to Bob Barker’s The Price is Right.)
Let’s not forget Da Vinci’s wise words that started this blog post. “He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.”
Even more important than knowing your strengths and your passions (because hey, maybe we don’t want to all be masters, maybe there are some things we need to be comfortable with like driving, public speaking, using the laundry machine, etc.) is to:
Access the tools/ support systems needed to nurture those skills and learn the theories. Whether that means finding your personal fairy godmother, sponsor, mentor, or seeking out an organization, for example, Toastmasters, that can become a ‘group mentor’ to aspirations.
(Personally speaking, I’m a huge fan of the Toast Master organization for public speaking. Because of them, I’ve gone from being shy in front of an audience to coaching huge groups in both English and French, at all levels of leadership. The knowledge was within me, as was the potential – I just needed to help bring out that talent. This month my own Toastmasters group is launching with their new theme Do, Think and SPEAK like Da Vinci. Details available here!)
Leonardo had big ideas about flying machines. Just imagine if he’d had the theory of flight behind his drawings . . . the world would have been flying much, much sooner.
So to review – we’re going to be discovering how to Do, Think and Be like Da Vinci in the upcoming weeks with sessions from executive coaches, insights from hugely in-demand project managers, digging into the book How to Think Like Da Vinci, to looking back on our own experiences.
First steps in becoming a master of anything:
- Recognize your strengths.
- Forgive your weaknesses.
- And find support to learn the theory and have guidance as you develop.
The Sister Leadership challenge: What have you been focusing on for yourself and for your team: weakness or strength? Is there something you can do today that changes the direction away from weaknesses, and instead builds upon strength?
Till next time,
Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her knowledge of resilience, perseverance, and changing perception to others. Camille is currently accepting applications for the Women’s Executive Network Senior Executives Wisdom Peer Mentoring program. Applications to this exciting and knowledge-sharing program are available here.