Before you think me immodest, I found and fell in love with this phrase after reading it in Eddie Shleyner's 325th Very Good Copy email, where Eddie explains how Leonardo da Vinci's insatiable curiosity and diverse hobbies made him immensely creative. He relates the following quote from author Walter Isaacson:
“Leonardo did anatomy drawings, he did math, squaring of a circle, he did engineering, tried to build flying machines,” Isaacson said, “and some art critics will say if he hadn’t wasted his time doing that, he would’ve painted more paintings. Well sure, he might have painted more paintings, but he wouldn’t have painted the Mona Lisa — he would not have been Leonardo da Vinci.”
Walter Isaacson, Art of Manliness Podcast Episode 357
I tend to be a task-oriented person. I obsess on what I must do and what's next on my to-do list. But we must remember that there's enormous value in allowing ourselves to wander from idea to idea, hobby to hobby. Not everything we do has to be completed, turned into a business, or even showed to anyone else. Sometimes, it's only purpose is to be a stepping stone or platform for another great endeavor.
The lesson we can learn from Leonardo's life is that being curious and exploring diverse interests doesn't distract us from doing something great. Rather, this trait cultivates something powerful in us: the ordinary genius needed to see the world like few can.
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