Albert Einstein often said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Not surprisingly, he possessed both in abundance. So, too, did Leonardo da Vinci. In fact, da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance man, developed a scientific theory for sharpening one's imagination, and over the next few months we'll explore the principles (summarized here) he himself applied.

According to his writings — and outlined in Michael J. Gelb's inspirational book, How to think like Leonardo da Vinci — da Vinci identified seven principles, or qualities, essential to the creative mind. These are, in the master's own tongue, curiosità, dimostrazione, sensazione, arte/scienza, corporalita, sfumato, and connessione. And here, the definitions:

Curiosità — An insatiable curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

Dimostrazione — A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

Sensazione — The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.

Sfumato — A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty. Sfumato literally means “going up in smoke.”

Arte/Scienza — The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination.

Corporalita — The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.

Connessione — A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena.

My hope is that as we consider each of these qualities, we all become better engineers, scientists, and artists.