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Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking by Rich Horwath

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DISCIPLINE

#2

Compete

To strive together to achieve a goal, we may never know a more noble role.

The archetype of the Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci excelled at many disciplines including painting, sculpture, architecture, and engineering to name just a few. In 1483, he created one of the first and most famous designs for the precursor of today’s helicopter, commonly referred to as the “aerial screw.” Made from reed, linen, and wire, his invention was designed to compress air to obtain flight through the unique spiral shape of its sail. While da Vinci’s model would not have been able to take flight due to weight constraints, he nevertheless provided inspiration for future designers.

It was during the Italian Renaissance that da Vinci and his counterparts fanned the flames of competition in the arts. They introduced the concept of paragone, which means that one art form—be it sculpture, painting, or design—was perceived as being superior to others. This concept evolved into monetary contests sponsored by wealthy patrons, where the artists themselves were in direct competition with one another. Far from hindering creativity, the act of one artist having to compete directly with another artist was encouraged. Da Vinci wrote:

You will be ashamed to be counted among draughtsmen if your work is inadequate, and this disgrace must motivate you to profitable study. Secondly a healthy envy will stimulate you to become one of those who are praised more than yourself, for the praises ...

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