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Be a Renaissance Man or Woman

It seems like it has been a long time since we have been witness to a Renaissance man. However, before I can say we are missing them wouldn’t it be best to identify what the Renaissance man is?

Well according to the American Heritage Dictionary the definition of Renaissance is

ren·ais·sance   (rěn’ĭ-säns’, -zäns’, rěn’ĭ-säns’, -zäns’, rĭ-nā’səns)


A rebirth or revival.

  • The humanistic revival of classical art, architecture, literature, and learning that originated in Italy in the 14th century and later spread throughout Europe.
  • The period of this revival, roughly the 14th through the 16th century, marking the transition from medieval to modern times.
  • A revival of intellectual or artistic achievement and vigor: the Celtic Renaissance.
  • The period of such a revival.

    often Renaissance
  • A revival of intellectual or artistic achievement and vigor: the Celtic Renaissance.
  • The period of such a revival.

Perhaps the definition that comes closest to our terms is “A revival of intellectual or artistic achievement and vigor”. Indeed in this modern day and age it would have to no doubt be a revival.
The quintessential Renaissance man would then be non-other than Leonardo Da Vinci. Da Vinci perhaps most well known for his paintings was far more than an artist. Leonardo studied anatomy; invented contraptions; expanded his spiritual conscience; and painted. To this day not all of Leonardo’s interests are known.

In History we have had a number of Renaissance men, others being Francis Bacon, Benjamin Frankiln, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Thomas Jefferson were all Renaissance Men. They also had another small thing in common from DaVinci to Jefferson. These men were all Rosicrucians; is being a Rosicrucian a prerequisite to being a Renaissance man: Certainly not. In my studies of the Rosicrucians I have found one thing to be true. The mystical order of the Rosicrucians described in so many old texts is now defunct. Sure there are actual Rosicrucian orders but it is not the organization that one belongs to that makes them a Rosicrucian.

What makes one a Rosicrucian are some of the same things that makes one a Renaissance man.

Desire to learn
A Renaissance man has an unquenchable desire to learn and gain knowledge. It is this constant drive and desire to learn that sets one on the path to be jack of all trades master of some. When I find out something new, whether it be on antique rugs, figure drawing, or even football. I devote every moment to learn as much as I can about that subject. A great aid to the desire to learn is trying to remember how you felt about something when you were a child. This new view can often kindle interest in even the most mundane things.

Failure is success
As the cliche goes if at first you don’t succeed then try try again. Why do we keep trying if we fail the first time? We learn more in our failures than we do our successes. This is especially true in programming jobs. Be tenacious and don’t give up. After all if we succeeded the first time, every time we wouldn’t learn anything new. When I first decided that I wanted to teach myself html , I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. In fact I would get so frustrated, that my code wouldn’t work; I just wanted to quit. With perseverance and dedication though and (2 months) I was able to succeed. I learned everything not to do and why.

Don’t put in minimum effort
The attitude don’t fix it if it isn’t broken is just laziness. When we put in minimum effort we are setting ourselves up for future failures and caveats. If I finally finish a task even if it is as simple as washing my car, it serves me better if I take the time to dry it off and double check to make sure I didn’t miss a spot. While this could seem borderline obsessive, it helps to train my mind to always do my best.

Micromanage your passions
Now to some of us this is where it can get tricky. A true Renaissance man has many interests. Just as Franklin experimented with electricity and ran a printing press so too must we have many interests. I myself find it difficult to choose between all of my different interests. So in an effort to get a little of every interest in I divide my week accordingly devoting a day or two to each interest.

Set goals
Set goals and write lists of goals. It has been proven by Harvard that those who write down their goals end up vastly more successful than those that do not. Every year I write a new list of goals for myself. The goals may be about traveling, intellectual, physical, or spiritual pursuits; whatever they are I write them down. Then in a year I compare the old list to the new and 9 times out of 10 I find that I have done everything on my old list.

Get plenty of sleep
It has been said many times by many people; get plenty of sleep or one’s productivity will suffer. There is great truth to this; but with so many subjects to be interested in and maintaining a day job it seems there is not enough time to do everything. We work optimally on 7-9 hours of sleep a night, anymore or less and one’s body will suffer. I used to make it a habit to guarantee at least 8 hours of sleep a night; but as of late I have found this more and more difficult. It was not until recently when I returned to my old ways of 8 hours of sleep; that I found I was getting more done.

Take Action
It takes more than just learning about something to be a Renaissance man. A Renaissance man will also act upon what they learn. I have met far too many people who either read philosophy and don’t apply it to themselves or even worse are practicing hypocrites. It was not until my later years that I began to realize the importance of acting upon my ideas and education as soon as possible. We don’t have much time on this planet and if we ever want to achieve our goals we need to start now.

While following this list may not guarantee you a spot in history like that of Ben Franklin or Leonardo Da Vinci it will certainly bring you that much closer to living up to your full potential. If we don’t try how will we ever know what we can do?

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