In the History Channel's Da Vinci and the Code, the code has nothing to do with Dan Brown's work but refers instead to Da Vinci's work ethic, curiosity, and, most importantly, the discipline needed to keep working and moving forward, even through tumultuous times--in 15th century Italy life was little valued, especially if you were of the working class.

Today, most know of Da Vinci as a painter, but he was much more than that.

Da Vinci was a mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician, and writer. Many of his ideas were considerably ahead of their time. He envisioned a helicopter, a tank, solar power, a calculator, and outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. His ideas were so advanced that most could only be left to linger in theory. However, some of his inventions were used in the 15th century, such as a machine for testing tensile strength wire. As a scientist, he advanced knowledge in the fields of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics.

But is da Vinci an exception who can't be touched? What really made him so unique? Where does the secret lie?

In this day ‘n age of the specialist, we are not advised to be a Renaissance man or woman. We are told not to be a Jack- or Jane-of-all-trades. But if we listen to the popular notion there's a good chance we are doing something really wrong. According to Napoleon Hill, we need to be careful who tells us what:

"Who said it could not be done? And what great victories has he to his credit which qualify him to judge others accurately?"

Hill also said of failure:

"Every failure is a blessing in disguise, providing it teaches some needed lesson one could not have learned without it. Most so-called failures are only temporary defeats."

Da Vinci would agree, for he did not see failure as something to stop him or even slow him down.

Da Vinci's extreme contributions to many fields only rival that of the great Michelangelo. Ironically, it was it was a fierce competition with Michelangelo at the end of da Vinci's life that nearly put him out of commission. But it was his belief in himself, in his vision, that kept him going.

"Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind." da Vinci

Was da Vinci the great man he was, the great discoverer, the great Renaissance man, merely because he was born that way? Or did he have to earn it?

"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death." da Vinci

Did da Vinci make discoveries or was he made by them? How much of his effort, his desire, pealed back information and knowledge that was there merely waiting to be discovered? How many of his discoveries were made simply through unrelenting desire to learn, to see the truth, to uncover that which was already there?

But a more important question is, can you do the same? To what degree?

But before we can attempt to answer that question, let's get the word "discovery" clearly defined in our mind's eye.

Discovery: the act of revealing; disclosure.

It doesn't say the act of making something from nothing but to "reveal," to "disclose" that which already exists. As in radio waves being merely revealed not invented or put there. As in the laws of gravity being revealed not imagined and then placed by man for discovery.

What can you discover? How do you do it? Let's ask da Vinci.

"All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions." da Vinci

But what is "perception"?

Perception: mental grasp of objects, qualities, etc. by means of the senses; awareness; comprehension. The understanding, knowledge, etc. gotten by perceiving.

Da Vinci was the great envisioner he was because he perceived and conceived. He studied birds and how their wings moved in order to fly, and he envisioned man doing the same. He looked at fish swimming in water and envisioned man doing the same or at least functioning under water. He envisioned the human body and enquired and explored.

So the big question of the day is, what da Vinci-ing have you done lately?

But is all that work worth it? What's your motivation? Should you simply do so much without adequate cause? Here's what da Vinci has to say.

"A day well-spent brings happy sleep, so a life well-spent brings happy death." da Vinci

He was certainly a man of action. Much action . . . action . . . action . . .

"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do." Da Vinci

It is a universal principle that effort given is reward received. Only those who sweat (genius is 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration) imbibe of the great knowledge merely waiting to be reviled to the deserving few. Great insight is not unique in that it lies in wait for a "special person." All are privy to its gain. But to gain one must study, learn, observe, and discipline the mind and condition the soul for greatness. For great knowledge lies in wait for those of great desire, character, and faith in the finding.

God bless.

Author's Bio: 

Jeff is a Self-Realization expert and can be found at He has written 100's of essays and articles; over 50 poems; and several books: At, you can find Black Body Radiation and the Ultraviolet Catastrophe, a novel to inspire young adults and the young at heart. For more inspiration, get his collection of poems, To Die at the Age of Man at Lulu dot com. Coming soon: Give and Grow Yourself Rich (July, 2008); Education is a Waste of Time, (late 2008); and a children's novella The Search for Adriana (late 2008). Currently, he teaches writing and owns Inner Projection, a self-improvement business.