“Ancora Imparo” – Still, I am learning

by | Jul 9, 2023

In the Arena – Whiteboard Wisdom #004

“Ancora Imparo” – Still, I am learning.

I first came across these words when studying Fine Art, having returned to University in my 50s to formally study something I had always done – drawing.

I was reading about Michelangelo as part of my studies when I came across the folklore story of his notebooks. He would write the words ‘Ancora imparo’ often. Perhaps not unusual in itself, except when it was discovered, Michelangelo was 87 years of age.

Still, I am learning.

I have taken a literal leaf out of Michelangelo’s notebooks and ‘Ancora imparo’ is one of four principles I write down each day, not only to remind myself of the importance of creating the habit, system and stimulus for learning, to be an avid seeker of wisdom, be it reading, watching or listening to interesting stuff, or putting myself in conversation with wise people, but to understand that whatever happens today, good and bad, I am better for it.

In recent years I have realised that many people considered successful by most measurements now ‘resist’ discovering that they still have much to learn. Many have this expectation of others, but not of themselves.

One reason, I suspect, as they climbed the ‘success ladder’ the less feedback and formal development they sought or received. One of my favourite lines in this regard is, “no one tells the CEO their baby is ugly’. But then, when seeking to transform organisational performance, they fail to recognise the personal transformation they need to undertake to lead this process, particularly when it comes to deeper change, such as cultural transformation, stuck in old-way thinking, when every indicator points to a new-way expectation. They are ill-equipped for this challenge, unlikely to know why, and less likely to see themselves as the problem.

“Ancora Imparo” – Still, I am learning.

The “In the Arena – Whiteboard Wisdom” concepts I speak to are taken from years of daily journaling, in-the-moment note-taking in my Moleskine journal, and my lived experience as a CEO and leader in high-performance sport for most of my working life.

I call this process ‘borrow freely, apply uniquely’, inspired by the Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ line, “It is not where you take it from, it is where you take it to”.


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