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Leonardo, Lincoln and the Power of Memory

Imagine if we remembered everything we read or heard. Or just 20 percent more of it. We’d all be geniuses. That is, of course, if we’re disciplined about our reading and listening habits in the first place.
Leonardo da Vinci knew that memory was central to genius. His prolific memory was amplified by a profound curiosity, too, as well as a belief in systems thinking. After all, how else does one rank polymathically among history’s greatest painters, sculptors, inventors, engineers, architects, writers and more?
Not only did Leonardo want to learn and experience everything, he wanted to retain that knowledge, too. For him, memory was a developable tool fueling an enormous intellectual and creative appetite.
Doris Kearns Goodwin reminds us in her book “Leadership in Turbulent Times” (2018) that Lincoln understood the enormous power and value of memory, too. Just as Joe DiMaggio hated it when baseball fans said he made the game look easy, Lincoln bridled when friends treated his prodigi…

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