A few years back I sat at the kitchen table, unable to sleep, the house quiet. It was 1 a.m. on March 25, the day that would have been my late father Frank’s 85th birthday.

I hadn’t realized the significance of the day until I fixed a bowl of oatmeal and opened up my journal to scribble down a few lines. My mind had been on other matters as I lay in bed, staring into darkness, wondering if the pain medication I was taking for my back was keeping me mentally wired even while physically exhausted. I was supposed to get up in less than five hours to attend a leadership breakfast at Vanderbilt University.

First, I perused through some blog ideas I’d jotted down in my journal across the previous several days, and one of them struck me as appropriate for writing about in the dead of the night.

The popular books of creative strategist Michael Gelb had been particularly inspiring to me that spring, and I’d torn through one of his works, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, in a couple of days and sketched several ideas and action steps. Gelb’s book presents numerous exercises to consider for stimulating fresh thinking and gaining deeper perspective, one of them being the simple task of answering the question, “What would I learn if I could learn anything?”

Slowly eating my oatmeal, I jotted down the following: The greatest ideas from the greatest minds across history. How to speak French. How to speak Italian. Ballroom dancing. Practiced wine differentiation.

I’ve made some progress on the first and last items on this list, and zero progress on the middle three (I’ll get around to them). Various other topics have stoked my learning passion since that early morning.

Travel in particular has become a favorite learning vehicle. “As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known,” wrote Carson McCullers in a 1940 Vogue article titled, “Look Homeward, Americans.”

And I’ve come to understand that one of the most effective and joyful pursuits in life is “learning how to learn.”

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I’m an ICF and Hogan certified coach, equipping professionals to develop their authentic human leadership capabilities in the age of AI. My customers are HR or Talent Development professionals seeking coaching for their business clients, as well as business leaders looking to connect directly with a coach for themselves or their team members. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.