6 Ways Leonardo da Vinci makes us feel good about freelancing

Apr 15, 2014

Though da Vinci specialized in painting, he was also a sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, geologist, cartographer, anatomist, botanist, and writer. So yeah, he liked to keep himself busy. As any freelancer knows, being a jack-of-all-trades is an important part of being your own boss. Being a great graphic designer is great, but learning how to manage your finances, promote your business on social media, network, and manage your personal brand will place you head and shoulders above the rest.

In his notebooks, da Vinci had a lot to say about life, and what he’d learned over the course of his own. Interestingly, a lot of them directly relate to the life of a freelancer. Reading them was revitalizing for me so I thought I’d share them with you. Hopefully you take some inspiration from them as well:

“If you find from your own experience that something is a fact and it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority and base your reasoning on your own findings.”

Are you a freelancer? Right, well...you’ve already taken da Vinci’s advice haven’t you? You’ve decided that the traditional career path didn’t appeal to you. As a result, you’ve chosen a life more conducive to a healthy work/life balance, become the vanguard of the Quiet Revolution, and are now helping determining the shape of the future economy.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

If you’ve ever worked as a freelancer, you know that there are certain elements to the lifestyle that no 9-5 job could ever provide. Sure, there are a lot of myths, but the reality is that you have the freedom to make your own schedule, work from wherever you want, choose the projects that you spend your time on, and live your life in a way that allows for a greater work/life balance. Once you’ve had these experiences, it’s not going to be easy to go back to a traditional 9-5.

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

Regardless of how or why you began your freelance career, it takes a lot of hard work to keep it going and make it sustainable. Finding your first client, building a network, developing your brand, marketing yourself, and generally establishing your freelance business as a sustainable one can take up to years of dedication. No freelancer in the history of the world has just sit back and had a successful freelance career happen upon them.

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”

Maybe you’re a full-time freelancer, maybe you work 9-5 and have a side gig. Either way, you’ve realized what your passion is and made a conscious effort to pursue it in an active way. You know what it’s like to work on something not because it makes you money (though, hopefully it does), but because there’s nothing else you’d rather be doing.

“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”

As I’ve mentioned earlier, freelancing isn’t always a walk in the park. Unfortunately, if you’ve been freelancing for long enough you’ve experienced everything from dry spells and deadbeat clients to isolation and extended periods of working for “exposure” (AKA nothing). Some of these road bumps can be pretty traumatic, but with patience, they’ll pass. And you’ll be a stronger freelancer for having the courage to endure them.

“You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself...the height of a man's success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. ...And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.”

You’ve taken the initiative to work for yourself. Inherent in your ability to do this in a successful way is a heightened self-awareness. You know what you like and what you’re good at, as well as what you need to work on or what you’d prefer to subcontract to other freelancers. You may not be able to control some of the crazy things that clients may say to you, but you can determine the future of your freelance business.