While my wife and I were visiting my daughter and her family in Arlington, Mass., we visited the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History located on the campus of Regis College in Weston, Mass.
This nonprofit facility was named after Archbishop Francis Cardinal Spellman who donated his extensive collection to start the museum. This museum is one of only two in the country. The other one is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
I have to admit my heart flittered as I entered a large room filled with displays of stamps from across the world. A number of the collections involved Great Britain and many British territories from its days of empire including many from the World War II era. Another collection held stamps with some connection to Massachusetts's history and culture including those commemorating President Kennedy and memorializing his assassination. These stamps ranged from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Another group of stamps described the history of the zeppelin including the Shenandoah that crashed north of Caldwell on Sept. 3, 1925. The first stamps issued by Great Britain in 1840 called the penny black and the first American stamp featuring Benjamin Franklin in 1847 were also featured.
While I walked through the two floors of exhibits, my grandson worked in the craft room pasting stamps on a piece of paper. Henry Lukas, the museum's director of education, staffed the facility while we visited and shared its history and purpose, which was to promote knowledge and understanding of worldwide history and geography through the study of stamps, letters, and other artifacts of people's communication through the mail. Based upon my examination, it certainly accomplished its purpose.
Since I am a stamp collector, I was naturally excited about this visit. My collection began almost 50 years ago. My older brother piqued my interest as I watched his collection grow. Although not my initial purpose, I learned a lot from stamp collecting. Each stamp was a description of history, a work of art, and a geography lesson. As a result of my collection, I knew where every country was located and much about their place in history.
I believe my love of history and curiosity about a number of diverse subjects arose from stamp collecting. I often consulted the Encyclopedia Britannica from the family bookshelf to learn more about a country or a topic on a new stamp. The characteristic of curiosity is a valuable one for leaders. Asking questions during new experiences can help prompt research and result in relevant solutions for work issues. Good leaders are always asking themselves and their staff questions about the world around them and are not afraid to apply new understanding to their work.
Throughout time, novel inventions have come from asking the right questions.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray's new book, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.