1-Sentence-Summary: The Da Vinci Curse explains why people with many talents don’t fit into a world where we need specialists and, if you have many talents yourself, shows you how you can lift this curse, by giving you a framework to follow and find your true vocation in life.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Wait, what’s a fiction book doing on Four Minute Books? And wasn’t this made into a movie already? Nope, you’re thinking of The Da Vinci Code right now, which, in spite of the all too familiar name, has nothing in common with this book. Except that the hero is following his true calling in both cases.
Though I think it’s no coincidence that the author of this book is named Leonardo, just like the world’s most famous renaissance man, I’m sure it took lots of them to arrive at the publication of this book, which I’m grateful for.
The basic premise is something I’ve talked about before myself: that many of us are multipotentialites and get really depressed when it comes to choosing a true calling. Being a “jumper” himself, Leonardo eventually came up with a way to figure out how to piece it all together. Now he’s a master luthier – someone who builds guitars (electric guitars, in his case) – and shares his framework with you.
Here are 3 lessons to help you settle on a craft and master it:
- If you feel like you don’t fit into this world, it’s because you do a lot, but the world wants you to do just one thing.
- Don’t jump ship when critics raise their voices, it’ll make you miserable.
- Find one complex activity, which forces you to use many of your talents.
Sick of drifting around? Let’s lift Leonardo’s curse!
Lesson 1: The world wants you to specialize, so if you have many talents, you naturally feel like you don’t belong.
Who do you go to when you wake up and your back hurts? Your physician. Who do you go to, if it still hurts the next week? Your chiropractor. If it becomes a chronic thing, you’ll probably go to a physical therapist. Worst case scenario, you’ll end up on a spinal reconstruction surgeon’s table.
The world we live in thrives on specialists. Back in Leonardo Da Vinci’s days, it was perfectly fine to have a rough idea of anatomy, be able to read only 25% of all words and earn your living as a farmer. Knowing a lot of stuff was not only easier, because there was less stuff to know, it was also a lot more reasonable financially.
But the amount of available knowledge has completely exploded, especially in the past 25 years, thanks to the internet. It’s impossible for you to be an expert in many things. If you want to be a Youtuber, become a great consultant, and a top notch chef all at once, you’re in for a tough decision. You can only master a highly complex skill, if you dedicate yourself to it entirely.
This is a huge bummer for multi-talented people (like you and me), because we’re incredibly curious, but find it hard to commit to just one thing for a long time. Even if we could, we don’t fancy the idea of throwing out 99% of our passions. But the world rewards specialists, which makes us feel bad for not focusing, so over time we get the idea that we just don’t fit in.
Lesson 2: Don’t switch fields when it’s about to get serious, it’s worse than facing criticism.
So what can you do about it?
First of all, so-called Da Vinci people like you and me tend to run away from two things, which we shouldn’t: competition and criticism.
It’s easy to practice the perfect basketball free throw all by yourself, become a great hoops shooter and then quit before you ever play with others. Your pride is left intact and you get to tell yourself: “This isn’t that hard, I could totally become great if I really wanted to.”
This spares you having to face cruel, but crucial criticism and that you’re probably still very much a beginner, like all masters once were. You just switch fields and learn the basics of something else, which means you never get the feedback you would’ve needed to get to the next level in what you were doing before.
That’s why we Da Vinci people often end up job hopping and jumping from hobby to hobby, until we feel we’ve wasted a lot of time. Then we realize in our 40s that we might not even have enough time left to become true masters at all. In the long run, this lack of direction will make you much more miserable than any criticism ever could. So the next time things are about to get serious, don’t switch.
Instead, pause and do the following.
Lesson 3: Find one, single, complex activity, which forces you to use many of your talents.
When Leonardo Lospennato realized that he’d have to pick something to master, but didn’t want to give up on all of his skills and passions, he decided to choose something so complex, that it would require him to use many of his skills, not just one.
For him, building electric guitars was the perfect choice, as it united his knowledge of acoustics, physics, electrical engineering and design, as well as his love for music, helping others, and marketing something he was passionate about.
So do focus on one thing, but make it something so complex that it requires you to use many of your existing talents and skills, and not just one.
For example, in writing this blog, I can practice writing, editing videos, designing images, online marketing and running a business all at once!
My personal take-aways
I had no idea this book existed. Found it randomly on Blinkist, and am really happy about it! I love the name, the message, and Leonardo’s simple three-step framework for finding your calling – it’s very practical. I like practicality. This book is definitely a hidden champion. If you think you have many talents, go give this a read!
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- Leo’s three-step framework for finding your true calling
- What your creative inventory is and why you should write it out
- The three questions each of your dreams must pass to make it to step two
- How you can use a famous consulting tool to rank your passions and skills
- The four habits that’ll keep you from losing your path on your way to your calling
Who would I recommend The Da Vinci Curse summary to?
The 17 year old, who just graduated high school, and has no clue what to do, because she liked many subjects, the 48 year old, who still keeps switching jobs and making career jumps, and is afraid he might run out of time, and anyone who feels like a jack of all trades in a world of specialists.