By Shima Rafizadeh, MMgt 2019

Today no one would question that Leonardo da Vinci was a genius. Yet, when he was almost 30, Leonardo was a regular painter. At that age, unsatisfied with where he was in his life,  he wrote a version of a cover letter to the ruler of Milan, asking to be hired.

His letter  was very ambitious. He wanted to be the military’s engineer though he lacked experience – he only had an imagination and a few designs. Nevertheless, that letter got him into Milan’s court. Not as a military engineer (and maybe never), but he was now in a large organization with a lot of opportunities to grow.

Sounds like a very familiar story, doesn’t it?

Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t like the painters of his time or geniuses of our time. He wasn’t an Elon Musk with a multi-million dollar company at the age of 28 or among the world’s richest 1%. He was a mere man with dreams and ambitions As Walter Isaacson mentions in his Bibliography of Leonardo Da Vinci, “Leonardo’s genius was of the type we can understand, even take lessons from.”

I often hear my friends say things like “I’m reaching 30 and am not making [this much] money,” or similar phrases that start with “I’m 30…” or “I’m not young anymore …”.

Maybe we’d be a bit kinder to the progress in our lives if we all looked a little deeper into the lives of people we admire. I guarantee you’ll find hardship and disappointments, delays, and unfinished works. But there is brilliance to be found in all those imperfections.

And that is why I love Leonardo.

Remember to seize opportunities, apply for that attractive job with (seemingly) more qualified candidates, and write that cover letter. But also remember to be kinder to yourself – to try, to fail, and maybe with a little luck, to succeed!

You may not know that you are brilliant now … but you might be a Leonardo too.