3 Habits that made Leonardo da Vinci, the greatest genius of all time

Genius is made, not born.

Leonardo Da Vinci wasn’t just an amazing artist known for his stellar creations such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper but he was also an incredible inventor, musician, top-end athlete and a scientist. An amazing, all-rounded guy.

Updated March 2018: Our articles get updated regularly to stay relevant for our readers and this article is no exception. This article has been one of the most read and linked articles of 2017. We at Transforming Adjustments are grateful for our readers and contributors. Hope you enjoy the updated version! 

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Michael Gelb, the author of "How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci" wrote: 

"The genius of Leonardo resides not just in what he created by in what he can inspire us to create. Beyond all his stellar achievements, Leonardo da Vinci serves as a global archetype of human potential, giving us intimations of what we ourselves may be capable of doing." 

Leonardo's works are truly fascinating and even mind-numbing! He was a true innovator and a visionary. But what if I told you that we can all be like Leonardo himself?

We all possess endless capabilities. We are gifted with unlimited potential for learning and creativity. The problem is that people don't know how to liberate this unique intelligence and creativity of ours. We don't know how to uncover our hidden talents. Below are top three habits of Leonardo himself that helped him become the greatest genius of all time. 


Your brain is hard-wired for genius
— Tony Buzan


1. Write a journal

Leonardo da Vinci carried a notebook with him at all times so that he could jot down ideas, impressions, and observations as they occurred. His notebooks contained jokes and fables, the observations and thoughts of scholars he admired, personal financial records, letters, reflections on domestic problems, philosophical musings and prophecies, plans for inventions, and trea tises on anatomy, botany, geology, flight, water, and painting.”

Writing journal entries is scientifically proven to have benefits beyond our expectations. Journaling is known to: 

  • Clarify thoughts and feelings (declutters life and bring clarity in life)
  • Heal you emotionally, physically and psychologically 
  • Aid in problem solving and goal achievements (There's actual scientific evidence to this! The act of writing goals down signals your brain that "this is important". Your reticular activating systems (RAS) then flags relevant opportunities and tools to achieve that goal)
  • Boost immunity  
  • Boost emotional intelligence (improves your ability to perceive and manage emotions) 
  • Strengthen self-discipline (Life is meant to be hard but the more disciplined you are, the easier it gets)


Writing a journal is a strict morning ritual of mine and you should definitely try it too! It was one of Leonardo's habits that helped him achieve and become the person that he is well known for today. The indescribable feeling of nostalgia when you read old journal entires is a bonus! I enjoy writing with a physical pen and paper and have them backed up on Evernote. I exclusively endorse and use this moleskine

NOTE: Success leaves footprints! Mimicking the actions and habits of successful people is one sure way to improve yourself and the conditions of your life.



2. Recite self-Affirmations

Although he had bouts of self-doubt and questioned the value of his efforts, he never gave up. Leonardo’s courage and persistence in the face of adversity are tremendously inspiring. He strengthened his will to continue his work through affirmations that he wrote in his notebook, such as:


‘I do not depart from my furrow.’
‘Obstacles do not bend me.’
‘Every obstacle is destroyed through rigor.’
‘I shall continue.’
‘I never tire of being useful.’

Self-affirmations are a powerful tool that help you become focused on your life goals (I wrote an article after reciting self-affirmations for the past 3 years! It's called: Self-Affirmations Bruce Lee Style and My Thoughts After 3 Years of Daily Affirmations, check it out!). Just like Leonardo himself, many leaders and entrepreneurs today are religiously following his habits of self-affirmations. Self-affirmations come in many different techniques but they all serve a single purpose; to send positive energy out to the Universe, help you stay focused and achieve goals. 

I don’t believe that we can achieve our goals by simply reciting affirmations. There is a clear difference between day-dreaming (being delusional) and effectively visualising backed by action. However, I believe that self-affirmations are powerful as they help me gain clarity and focus on my values and life goals. Like mission statements, it is a succinct way of defining my purpose in life. 

If you haven't developed a habit of practising self-affirmations or you're not sure where to start, I recommend listening to this podcast by Tim Ferriss: Scott Adams: The Man Behind Dilbert


If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right
— Henry Ford


Related Reads: 3 Mindset Hacks To Live Happier, More Successful And Younger Life.



3. Athleticism

Did you know that Leonardo was also an incredible athlete? 

It’s almost hard to believe a man excelling in so many different fields (But remember, this is how we are all created to be, not just Leonardo. Why settle and be good at one thing when we can be great in everything? Think ability not incompetence. Think abundance not scarcity). Leonardo knew that only a healthy body can bestow a healthy mind and therefore exercise was a strict daily routine in his life. 

Aerobic (‘with oxygen’) exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, improving blood and therefore oxygen flow to your body and brain. Your brain is, on average, less than 3 percent of your body weight, yet it uses more than 30 percent of your body’s oxygen. As you become aerobically fit, you double your capacity to process oxygen
— Michael Gelb

Furthermore, being fit is not just a matter of one's health and longevity but it's about self-discipline. Successful people understand that to living a truly successful life means that you're a winner in ALL aspects of life. If you're a successful businessman but you fail as a father or a husband, it means that you're a failure in life and Leonardo knew this. Despite his ingenuity in science and arts, he never failed to work on other aspects of his life. He constantly strived to be a better version of himself and so should you. 



Hack your habits

Thomas Edison once said,
"If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would really astound ourselves." 

We are all hard-wired for success and our potential is limitless and yet, only a small percentage of us succeed. The reason behind this mass mediocrity is that we live our lives on autopilot. We let our habits and routines dictate what we do and how we live our life. We do the bare necessities and fail to go above and beyond. Incorporating the above three habits will help you become a better version of yourself. Write journals, recite daily self-affirmations and become masters of your own body, The more disciplined you are, the more success you will encounter. 


Genius is made, not born. 

And it all starts by developing successful habits.