Abstraction is one of the greatest visionary tools ever invented by human beings to imagine, decipher, and depict the world.

Abstraction is one of the greatest visionary tools ever invented by human beings to imagine, decipher, and depict the world.


As a young lad, Leonardo da Vinci was denied any formal education. He was a bastard, born out of wedlock, and, as a result, was denied access to school. Under the tutelage of his uncle, young Leonardo was given the world of nature as his schoolbook. He would have to find his way through life using alternate means.

He became obsessed with birds and studied their motions, efforts, energies, and dynamics. He would collect a dead bird or bat and would closely study the mechanism of the wings, the muscles and bones that would make up the structure that permitted them to fly.

As a young man, he set out to try to replicate what he had learned. Countless illustrations, calculations, 3 dimensional models went into his ultimate quest, to take to the sky. Yet, through all of his focus, attention and determination, it is pretty clear that he never accomplished his goal.

Four hundred and fifty years later, the Wright Brothers, resurrected da Vinci’s idea of an arched wing, (which he had devised from studying a bat’s wing), and that proved to be the missing ingredient. With that finality, in Kittyhawk, North Carolina, the Wright Brothers accomplished the last piece of Leonardo’s design and took to the sky.

Not only was his arched wing the right concept, but Leonardo’s thoughts for another of his inventions was the foundation of the helicopter.  His ability to watch, see, reason, and ultimately extrapolate, would become the impetus for him being the one to crack one of the most coveted codes in all human history… enabling human beings to fly.

Abstract thinking is critical to the success of invention. Only through the lens of “what if” are we ever able to transcend what is in order that we may accelerate directly to what will be. While history is chock full of countless other visionaries whose ideas have helped humanity to evolve in myriad ways, it is still da Vinci, whose focus and perspective was one of the cornerstones of this entire chapter of history.

His list of accomplishments dwarfs almost every other human being whom I have studied. The inventions that are credited to him, number well over 250, including the Panama Canal, cranes and hoists, the telescope, armored tanks, guided missiles, machine guns, scuba diving, bicycle, parachute, paddleboat, water skis, mechanical car, flame thrower, collapsing bridges, cross bows, scaling ladders, submarines, canals, turbines, water mills, and many, many others.

If there is one lesson to be learned from Leonardo (and there are actually hundreds of them) it is that our ability to go beyond anything that is known, is only limited by imagination and a willingness to think in a manner that no one else has thought through previously. Then act upon those thoughts with full intention and devotion to detail. The rest will just follow.

Happy Friday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!